May 14th, 2013
At the Farmers’ Market on Sunday, I was delighted when the farmer gave me two wild rabbits. With the new season of spring vegetables coming up, rabbits are a real pest – they can have 3 – 12 babies every 2 or 3 months. It’s estimated that the population of rabbits in the the UK is in excess of 40 million. They are quite lean and eat vegetables – they taste good and we should eat more of them!
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 meat has gone out of fashion, it’s not currently very popular 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 can be worse than that of battery chicken).
For a change I decided to grill a whole rabbit on the barbecue. Since wild rabbits are lean they need to be cooked very quickly or very slowly or they meat will be tough. I don’t think that rabbit should be served medium rare (though I’d welcome an informed opinion on the subject), so in order to barbecue it until the juices run clear, the heat from the charcoal should be gentle. If I’d had a larger barbecue I’d have spread the hot coals around the body, providing indirect heat, as per roasting a whole pig. As that wasn’t possible I built a modest pile of charcoal and when it went white I spread it out evenly.
Drizzle some fresh lemon juice onto the rabbit to keep it moist and sprinkle on some salt, pepper and thyme. Grill slowly on a low heat for 30 – 60 minutes (until the juices run clear), basting occasionally. Serve with fresh Allioli (see my recipe here), salad and Patatas Bravas.
The rabbit turned out very tender – the saddle had the texture of chicken breast. I drank a glass or two of Marques de Altillo Rioja, which went perfectly with the garlic in the allioli and the heat in the salsa brava.