I met Lori about a week after I moved back to Cape Town 4 years ago. We sat opposite each other at a wine tasting and very quickly established that we had a lot in common when we got chatting about food. It was an instant click, and we have been good friends ever since. She assisted me on many shoots over a period of about a year and a half. She has had her own catering business and is now the creative chef for a large Cape Town catering company.
I love talking to her about food, eating with her, bouncing ideas off her and she is one of my most loyal blog readers offering me constant support. If you want to read about a few of Lori and my foodie adventures you can see we went to this years Taste of Cape Town and Last year’s Taste of Cape Town. We had dinner at La Colombe last year and this year.
So when Lori mailed me about cooking a rabbit a couple of weeks ago, I was super keen. Neither of us had cooked one before and we wanted as a way of learning to get up close and personal with this meat. We decided on a ragout.
As she is so super efficient, Lori also handled the sourcing of the rabbit from Andy Fenner’s new meat business, Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants. They are all about selling top-quality meat sourced from suppliers of ethically farmed animals. They are due to open up their shop in town soon, but in the meantime are able to handle direct orders. I personally can’t wait for them to open because their business philosophy appeals to me and I’m excited to check out their meat ‘bundles’. Click the link and go to their site for more info, or you could follow them on Twitter @FrankieFenner
Lori came round to my house with the bunny on Sunday and this is what we did:
Recipe: (this could have fed between 4 – 6 people with pasta)
- 1.4kg whole rabbit
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 4 rashers of bacon
- 2 stalks of celery chopped
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 1 cup of red wine
- about 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves removed)
- 1 handful of Italian parsley torn
- 2 – 3 bay leaves
- 1 can of peeled tomatoes
- 500 ml of chicken stock (I use Nomu Fond)
- flour for dusting the rabbit
- 1 tsp of smoked paprika – optional to season the flour
- salt and pepper
- olive oil to fry the rabbit
In a large pot saute the onions, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil until they start getting colour on them (about 5 minutes). Add the bacon and cook for a further minute or so. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan allowing about half the liquid to evapourate. Add the canned tomatoes.
Joint the rabbit into 7 pieces (4 legs and body divided into 3 parts), pat the meat dry with a paper towel, and coat in the flour to which you have added salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Heat a glug of olive oil in a nonstick pan and fry the rabbit pieces in 2 batches until light golden brown and set aside.
Add the rabbit pieces back into the pot with the base sauce and the herbs (parsley, thyme and bay) and cover with the 500ml of chicken stock. Allow this to simmer over a gentle heat for 2 hours. Some things are just meant to cook slowly. Remove the rabbit pieces and pull the meat off the bones (there are a lot of small bones). Lightly mash the sauce with a potato masher to thicken the sauce slightly but you still want it to be a bit chunky and rustic. Add the shredded meat back to the sauce and reheat.
Cook your pasta al dente and serve with a ladle of ragout. We used tagliatelle, but any pasta will work with this dish. We also decided a gremolata crumb would add a dash of texture and freshness to it.
To make the gremolata crumb, toss 1/2 cup of toasted bread crumbs, a small handful of parsley(leaves only) 1 clove of crushed garlic, zest of half a lemon, salt, and pepper into a food processor, and blitz.
It amazes me that rabbit is not available and eaten more widely. Perhaps it is too closely associated with a domestic animal. They are inexpensive to produce, free range and yield a very delicious tasting white meat that has a mild game flavour. They have very little body fat so this meat is also super lean.
This dish paired beautifully with a bottle of Avondale La Luna
Thank you Lori for a wonderful day of play in my kitchen. Thanks for all your inspiration, love, and support.