Thursday 14 October 2010
Recipe: Rabbit pot-roast with Parma Ham & Fresh Herbs
Apparently a piedmontese recipe, this is the most delicious method I have found for cooking rabbit. Bar none. It's one of those dishes where the first mouthful is followed by an appreciative silence around the table, as conversation falls away and people devote their full attention to the seductive flavours put before them. In the course of cooking, the ham dissolves to nothing inside the pot-roast rabbit, leaving just a rich and concentrated flavour, that mingles wonderfully with the finely-chopped fresh herbs, while the cooking juices in the pan provide a sauce which is gloriously unctuous.
The only thing to be wary of in this dish is the tendency for the sliced rabbit to fall apart when served, if the process of boning the rabbit has been a little haphazard. If your boning technique isn't first rate, or you're concerned that you won't get perfect slices, then the best thing to do is to let the rabbit cool down once cooked, and only slice it once it is almost cold, when the meat will hold together once more; the old catering trick is then to serve the cool slices on very hot plates, with a spoonful of very hot sauce over the top, both of which re-heat the meat pretty instantaneously.
I have to say, when I served this the other day, and I'd had only half a rabbit to work with, my finished slices fell to pieces pitifully, but the Technical Department said the flavour was so good that the presentation was entirely irrelevant!
Ingredients: 1 Rabbit, boned (if you can get this done professionally, then it is probably a good idea); 2 teaspoons each of fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, and thyme; 4 slices of Parma Ham (San Daniele is best of course, but any good parma ham will be fine); 3 carrots, peeled; 3 celery sticks; 2 oz Butter; 2 tbs Oil; 1 cup White Wine; 1 cup Chicken stock; Salt & Pepper.
1. Take one of the carrots and one of the sticks of celery and blanch them for a couple of minutes in boiling, salted water. Drain and refresh under cold water.
2. Lay the boned rabbit out flat, neck-end towards you, and season it with salt & pepper. Finely chop the herbs, and spread these evenly over the rabbit, and then cover completely with slices of Ham. Arrange the blanched carrot and celery along the end of the rabbit nearest to you, trimming and slicing as appropriate so that there is an even strip of both carrot and celery all the way along (the idea being that once the rabbit has been rolled and roast, when it is sliced, each slice will have at its centre a piece of cooked carrot and a piece of cooked celery). Roll the rabbit up, and tie tightly.
4. In a heavy casserole, melt the Butter with the Oil, and then brown the tied Rabbit on all sides.
5. Remove the Rabbit from the casserole, and sauté the remaining Carrot and Celery, cut into 1 cm dice, for five minutes or so until they start to colour. Return the Rabbit to the pan, season it generously, raise the heat and pour over the Wine over the Rabbit. Reduce the wine by about half, and then add the Stock. Once the liquid has returned to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and leave to cook for an hour and a quarter.
Leave for about ten minutes before slicing, and serve with the vegetables and cooking juices from the casserole.
Postscript: Somebody has very helpfully sent me this fascinating link to a how-to video for de-boning rabbit. Positively mesmerising.