‘Run rabbit – run rabbit – run, run, run’. My daughter and I were singing this at the market while I was buying a rabbit to make a slow braised ragu for my partner’s birthday dinner. I’m always interested to see how she reacts to the idea of eating a cute animal as she’s quite a carnivore, loving her ‘meso’ (Croatian for meat). She seems to take it in her stride.
Lola also loved the leftovers from the ragu that she had the night after our soire (which she slept through peacefully).
So the birthday dinner was built around the rabbit ragu which I had been planning to make as my first attempt at cooking rabbit. I found the recipe in an old Delicious magazine (making use of my food magazine filing system) – May 08 if you have it. It’s a Curtis Stone guest recipe (unfortunately it’s not on the web that I can find).
For starters I decided to reprise the dill and zucchini fritters I made a couple of months ago from the cook book Turquoise just so I could get some photos (I forgot to take any the first time) and because zucchini seem to be appearing everywhere at the moment and are really lovely (I thought they were only a summer vegetable/fruit). These are simple and tasty and have a lovely light texture. For a dipping sauce I mixed some finely chopped dill and mint with greek yogurt along with a small clove of garlic smashed up with a good pinch of salt. You can make the fritter mixture ahead and then keep in the fridge until ready to eat – they only take a few minutes to cook.
The rabbit ragu was accompanied by a winter salad of cos, radicchio and finely sliced fennel, tossed with a dressing of 4 parts extra virgin olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, 1 tsp caster sugar, a drizzle of honey, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, small sprig of thyme leaves, a finely chopped garlic clove, salt and pepper (adapted from the Sumac Dressing in Turquoise). This salad added great colour and crunch to the meal with a slightly sweet dressing that went well with bitter leaves. I’m loving this kind of salad at the moment. I’ve never been a huge salad fan but the more robust winter leaves are something I’ve really taken to lately and they really do go well with rich winter dishes.
The Ragu of slow braised rabbit with chickpeas, rosemary, garlic and candied lemon was pretty simple – with only five main ingredients: rabbit, lots of whole cloves of garlic, white wine, chicken stock and chickpeas. I got the butcher to joint the rabbit into 6 pieces as suggested in the recipe and it was pretty much like dealing with chicken marylands, just dusted with seasoned flour and browned before slow cooking in the oven for about 1.5 hours (the recipe said for 1 hour or until falling off the bone). The extra touch in this dish was the candied lemon scattered over the top which was just lemon rind thinly shredded and cooked in a sugar syrup for 5 minutes. It did add a (very) subtle slightly zingy sweetness but I felt the shaved pecorino added the real extra flavour hit that was required. The chickpeas were a good textural element. Everyone loved this dish and we had quite a lot left over as I think the two rabbits I bought must have been way over the 1.5kg specified in the recipe.
In my next post I’ll reveal the dessert – chocolate heaven!
Zucchini and Dill Fritters (from Turquoise by Greg and Lucy Malouf, reprinted with permission)
1 small onion, grated
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
100g fetta, crumbled
1/4 cup finely chopped dill
2 Tbl finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup plain flour
2 Tbl rice flour
freshly ground black pepper
Grate the zucchini coarsely and put in a colander. Sprinkle lightly with salt and toss, then leave for 20 minutes to drain. Rinse the zucchini briefly, then squeeze it to extract as much liquid as you can and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Mix the zucchini with the onion, garlic, fetta herbs and eggs in a large bowl. Sift on the flours, then season with pepper and stir to combine.
Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat until sizzling. Drop small tablespoons of batter into hot oil and flatten gently. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve piping hot.