Thursday, November 20, 2008

Local food - Wild rabbit with field mushrooms and shallots

Mogimont Village Ardennes Belgium by Ledent
Mogimont Village Ardennes Belgium

In the Ardennes where I grew up, Rabbit, Venison, Wild Boar were often on the menu. This week I am going to try and eat locally with what is available in the garden and in the area.
My personal diet is mostly vegetarian for many reasons but also because most meat products are fed on wheat to which I am intolerant.
Rabbit is in season currently and I have taken my grandmother's cookery book out and am making a rabbit stew marinated in a local Peregrine Dark Beer from Cotleigh Brewery. It requires marinating overnight. My family are not accustomed to rabbit so it may end up a complete disaster in the taste stakes.
The cost for 2 rabbits from the local butcher came to £ 4.40 which is less than a free range chicken. Rabbit meat should taste like chicken and contains a lot less fat. I know, it is a cute animal but very prolific here in the countryside and it is my intention to eat as locally as possible and not discount any resources.

This is a very lengthy process so you need more than time on your hands.

1 carrot ( peeled and cut into 4)
1 celery ( cut into chunks)
1 large onion sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
a couple of black peppercorns
2 bottles of Cotleigh Brewery Dark Beer
2 table spoons of cider vinegar

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade into a large dish, add rabbit pieces and leave overnight in a very cool place.

Day 2

4 tablespoons of flour
4 oz of butter
1 tablespoon of oil
1 pound of fresh mushrooms ( field mushrooms are best)
10 peeled shallots
6 fluid oz of stock ( vegetable or chicken)
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of redcurrant jelly
2 tablespoons of fresh minced parsley


  1. Remove rabbit pieces from the marinade and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Save marinade.
  2. Heat butter in pan until it froths and brown rabbit pieces on both sides. Work in small pieces so that it does not crowd the pan.
  3. Return all pieces back to a large pot , pour in all the marinade with vegetables, herbs and spices. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 45 mins.
  4. Place the cover slightly ajar and continue cooking for 45 to 60 mins until the meat is very tender and falls from the bones.
  5. prepare the mushrooms and onions. Melt some more butter over medium heat and add mushrooms. Cook for 8 to 10 mins then set aside.
  6. Melt some additional butter and add onions, with stock, sugar, salt and pepper in small saucepan. Add the onions and cook partially covered over medium heat until the onions are tender and the liquid has reduced to a syrup, about 30 mins. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Remove rabbit pieces from set, then puree the remaining ingredients in a blender; the pureed vegetables will thicken the sauce and give extra flavour. Return pureed sauce to saucepan, heat to the boil and add redcurrant jelly.
  8. Return the rabbit pieces along with the mushrooms and onions.
  9. Heat through and serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

I agree that this is not a quick recipe but if mastered on a cooker could continue to bubble on a woodstove for braising and gentle heat.

The family were appreciative of the fact that the meal had taken such a long time to cook. The smells pervaded the house and tantalised their noses. They were unsure of what it would be like but said they would not object to having it another time.


timx said...

I have taken the liberty of copying this recipe into my recipe folder! I have been wondering whether I could catch rabbits for myself (there are plenty around here in Cornwall), but I think grey squirrels are a more likely prey. Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall showed us a squirrel recipe the other day - and there is an instruction about humane killing of squirrels on the Defra website!

Anne said...

Hi Tim

Squirrels abound here too but I am not that good at catching them, the cats are though. There are a lot of resources around that we could try and I guess in Cornwall you are blessed by the sea and all its critters.
Fish is in many ways still unaffected by farming apart from salmon, trout and oysters.

Bobby & Jennifer said...

I like your blog. Our family is getting back to the old ways of doing things to reduce our use of big business. We just had rabbit stew a few weeks ago, because the cottontails were eating my garden. So two of them ended up in the crockpot as stew, which was very good. There is no closed season for rabbit here in Texas, so I will copy your recipe and see how we like it with the next batch.
I hope to read more on your blog.