June 27th, 2012
Rabbit is not an indigenous British species, it’s thought that they were brought here by the Romans or Normans, to farm for meat and fur. Rabbit has gone out of fashion, it’s not currently a very popular meat in England and the majority of animals in shops come from France, where it it farmed (according to a recent Sunday Times article, farmed rabbit conditions are worse than that of battery chicken).
Since rabbits are prodigious breeders, vegetable farmers have to do a considerable amount of shooting and trapping in order to protect their crops (our food). Rabbits are classified as vermin, so there’s no hunting season. Since rabbit tastes good, it seems to me that we should be eating the wild ones that breed here, rather than importing farmed rabbits that taste inferior, due to their diet of grain. Rabbit meat is far leaner than most other meats, so you won’t get fat on it.
I noticed recently, that there’s a stall in the Islington Farmers’ Market, selling wild rabbit for £3.50 (they offered me two for £6). Normally I braise rabbit meat – the large ones tend to be older and therefore tougher, but I bought a smallish one in order to try roasting it (on a whim).
This is very simple: chop 6 pieces of garlic and put them inside the rabbit with a knob of butter, a sprig of thyme, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Wrap up the meat in streaky bacon for extra flavour and fat, which it lacks. Leave the giblets attached inside or use them to make stock for gravy. Add a little red wine and red wine vinegar to the pan.
Cook for no longer than an hour at 180 – 200ºC. Cover and allow to rest for up to half an hour while making gravy with the juices, flour and some vegetable stock. Serve with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a good burgundy. I got lucky, this was a lovely tender bunny!