rabbit stew with tomato
I came across this rustic stew while leafing through the new River Cottage cookbook. I had never cooked rabbit before and this recipe looked so straight forward, I decided to give it a go. After a bit of chopping, slicing and browning the rabbit is left to slowly cook and mingle with the other ingredients in a low oven. It came out really moist and tender despite being extremely lean, and the tomato based sauce was lovely spooned over the meat and some mashed potatoes. The rabbit was however a little scrawny, with not much meat on it – at £10 a pop you’d be better off making the stew with chicken if you’re cooking for a large group, I think would come out just as good (if not better). For those of you who are more adventurous, the cookbook recommends a substitute of grey squirrels (I’ll stick to rabbit or chicken thanks).
Rabbit Stew with Tomato
(adapted from River Cottage Everyday)
1 rabbit, jointed
2 tbsp olive oil
4 rashers streaky bacon
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
4-5 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 whole black peppercorns
500g (1lb) tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
1 x 400g (280oz) tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F).
Season the rabbit pieces generously with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron pot (dutch oven) on a medium-high heat and add the bacon, cooking until brown. Add the rabbit and cook until nicely coloured on all sides. Remove the rabbit from the pan and set aside.
To the same pot add the onions, carrots and celery, cooking until they have coloured a little (add a sprinkling of water if the vegetables start to stick to the pot). Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns, and return the rabbit pieces to the pot.
Deglaze with the wine then throw in the fresh and tinned tomatoes, giving everything a good stir. Add enough water to just cover the rabbit and bring to a slow simmer.
Cut a piece of greaseproof paper into a circle the diameter of your pot and place directly on top of the stew. Put the pot in the oven to gently cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Take the pot out of the oven and remove the bay and thyme. Pick out the rabbit pieces and set aside in a warm place. Strain the sauce (if you prefer a more rustic dish you can forgo this and leave the vegetables in) and put back on the stove to reduce.
Mash the flour and butter together to form a paste and add to the sauce to thicken. once the desired consistency is reached, stop cooking and season to taste.
Serve the stew with fluffy mashed potatoes and steamed greens.