Rabbit with saffron, cucumber, tomatoes and basil

Rabbit with saffron, cucumber, tomatoes and basil

By
From
My Favourite Ingredients
Serves
6
Photographer
Jason Lowe

I’m very partial to rabbit and it is always a popular choice when we have it on the menu, yet sadly it seems to be underrated in this country. This combination, inspired by a dish in Richard Olney’s Simple French Food, is exquisite. For hefty appetites, you might like to cook the smaller shoulders along with the legs – they have a lovely sweet flavour. We serve this dish with soft polenta laced with lemon zest, unsalted butter, black pepper and Parmesan.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
6 farmed free-range rabbit legs, (and shoulders, if you like)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
40 saffron threads
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
750ml verjuice
20 little ripe tomatoes, such as San Marzano, datterini, or cherry tomatoes
4 little cucumbers
bunch basil, leaves only
large knob unsalted butter

Method

  1. Season the rabbit portions with salt and pepper. Place a large, wide pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When it is hot, brown the rabbit in batches if necessary; don’t overcrowd the pan. You want to brown the portions quite gently, but really thoroughly until they are golden brown all over.
  2. Add the saffron and garlic, then pour in the verjuice, scraping up all the delicious juices from the bottom of the pan. Allow to bubble to reduce down a bit, then turn the heat to low. Using the tip of a sharp knife, pierce each tomato and add to the pan. Season with a little more salt and pepper, then cover and cook gently for 30 minutes until the rabbit is cooked through. Continue to cook slowly for a further 15 minutes until the rabbit is very tender.
  3. Meanwhile, half the cucumbers lengthways and scoop out the seeds, then halve each piece or cut into quarters. Add to the rabbit and cook for no more than a couple of minutes. Tear the basil into strips with your fingers and add to the pan along with the knob of butter. Swirl to combine and immediately remove from the heat. Taste one last time and adjust the seasoning if you need to, then serve.
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