When I was 17, I brought a girlfriend home to be fed by my mum. After she’d cleaned her plate she proclaimed that it was delicious and asked what it was. When Mum told her it was rabbit casserole she shoved her plate away, burst into tears and said she didn’t like rabbit. And over the years, I’ve found many who might not actually cry but really won’t entertain the idea of rabbit. Which is a shame because it’s plentiful, cheap, easy to cook and very tasty.
For a casserole such as this, the rabbit makes a great stock which, when flavoured with the black pudding, makes a superb gravy.
Rabbit is actually one of the animals that is often better farmed than wild. It’s usually more tender with a slightly higher fat content due to them not doing quite so often what rabbits in the wild spend much of their time doing – if you get my meaning.
One rabbit – wild or farmed – left whole
A handful of pearl barley
300g of good quality black pudding – cut into chunks
One onion – finely chopped
Two carrots – peeled and roughly-chopped into 1cm lumps
Half a swede – peeled and roughly-chopped into 1cm lumps
A sprig of fresh thyme
Two bay leaves
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
In a casserole or pan large enough to take the rabbit, cover the rabbit with cold water and add the thyme and bay leaves and a little salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer or put into a pre-heated oven at 180°C, gas mark 4 for about 1½ hours or until the meat is falling off the bones.
Remove the meat and bones, pass the resultant stock through a fine strainer and return to the pan. Add the pearl barley, black pudding, onion, carrot and swede and bring back to a simmer for around 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Leave the lid off but watch that it doesn’t get too thick and add a little water if necessary.
Meanwhile, pick all the meat off the bones, watching out for any fine bones. When the vegetables are cooked, add the rabbit meat to the casserole, check the seasoning, reheat and serve with lots of creamy mashed potato.