Sunday 30 January 2011

Recipe: Slow-Poached Rabbit, stuffed with Orange & Walnuts

This might sound complicated - it isn't. And I can readily state that this is the most delicious thing I've eaten so far this year. 
With only a very few changes, the recipe is from an Australian food-writer called Christine Manfield (a friend of Christian's...he sent a copy of her latest tome for Christmas - an extremely weighty volume rather worryingly bound within day-glo velour covers, which gave long pause for thought once the outer wrapping had been removed).

The secret to painless slow-poaching is to use a deep-fat fryer as a water bath, where the accuracy of the temperature control means you can wander off and leave the poaching to take place entirely unsupervised; otherwise, it's a matter of hovering nervously for the entire cooking process, and endlessly checking thermometers and adjusting heat up or down, to ensure you have the correct constant temperature. It isn't my idea, I hasten to add - I first came across it in one of Jane Grigson's books, where she advised a deep-fat-fryer as the best means of poaching fruit in syrup. It works.

If you want an example of boning a rabbit, then follow the link through from my previous rabbit recipe, here.

For six.

Ingredients: a mature Rabbit, boned (with the liver still in place, preferably, to be included in the stuffing); 2 tbs Olive Oil; 1 small Onion, finely diced; 3 cloves Garlic, minced; 30g Pancetta, cut into julienne strips; 1 tsp ground Coriander seed; half tsp ground Cumin; 3 tsp Salt;1 tsp ground Black Pepper; 125g coarsely minced Pork meat + 125 coarsely minced Pork fat; 1 tbs chopped Parsley; 50g small black Olives, pitted and roughly chopped; 40g chopped Walnuts; zest of an Orange, finely chopped.


1. Lay the boned Rabbit out flat; butterfly the breasts open, and lay next to them the thigh and leg meat, to make as evenly covered  as possible a layer of meat. Sprinkle with 2 tsp Salt.

2. Sauté  Onion and Garlic in Oil, until they start to colour, then add the Pancetta, and continue cooling until the strips have become crisp. Stir in the Coriander and Cumin, add Salt and Pepper, and leave to cool.

3. Combine the cooled mixture with the minced Pork and fat, Rabbit liver (minced), Parsley, Walnuts, Olives and Orange zest. Heap this mixture along the longest end of the Rabbit 'rectangle' closest to you, and then roll the rabbit lengthwise, to enclose the stuffing tightly.

4. Wrap the rolled Rabbit in two layers of clingfilm, expel all of the air from within the package, and then twist the ends tightly to make a 'sausage'. The clingfilm should be tight enough that it holds the Rabbit in its sausage shape, and must be a good seal, to prevent any water from getting inside.

5. Fill a deep-fat-fryer with water to maximum depth (allowing for the displacement which will take place when the rabbit is submerged) and set the temperature to 75 degrees C. Once the water is at temperature, submerge the wrapped Rabbit, and leave to cook for 2 hours (turning every 30 minutes or so to ensure even cooking). Once cooked, remove the Rabbit from the water, and leave inside its wrapping for 30 minutes before unwrapping and slicing it to serve.

6. For a sauce to go with this, the rabbit bones can be used to make a light stock, which is then heavily reduced along with some white wine or vermouth to 'spooning' thickness , with seasoning adjusted just before use. (If your Rabbit arrived ready-boned, then use any light stock you have to-hand, instead of Rabbit Stock - chicken, veal, duck...they're all fine for this)

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