There is something gloriously retro about eating rabbit. Not that it featured a lot, in fact at all, in my 1980's childhood. It went out of fashion long before that. I suspect that once the country was spared the hardships of rationing, and was introduced to convenience foods, rabbit went off the menu completely, only to be seen again following the rise of the TV chef.
It was a TV chef (Jamie Oliver) inspired recipe which provided the basis for this dish of rabbit with pasta.
First of all the meat is marinated in olive oil, lemon zest, garlic and fresh herbs. We picked some lemon thyme and fennel from the Incredible Edible beds in Todmorden yesterday so that's what I used. Incidentally, we picked the herbs from the beds at the police station, which must be one of the few times some has reached in through the bars of a police station, rather than reaching out.
After marinating for about 4 hours the meat was browned in a big saucepan and then following it into the saucepan went a glass of white wine, 3 bay leaves, a chopped up lemon, salt and pepper and enough water to just about cover the meat. This went into the oven, at about 170-180 degrees, for a couple of hours.
After the rabbit had cooked for a couple of hours it came out of the oven to cool down, and I then picked the meat from the bones and strained the cooking liquid. The shredded meat I added back into the liquid, with a good knob of butter and heated it through whilst I cooked some pasta.
It made a really nice change from chicken and beef, and with a couple of tweaks is something I'd do again. I'd leave out the fennel next time, as it had a slightly medicinal edge to it, which may have been exacerbated by the Aussie viognier I used. Pinot Grigio never fails when I use it in Italian food, it has such a well rounded taste it can go with just about anything. The viognier had too much of a mineral taste.
From a rabbit costing £3.50 there was enough meat to feed 4 people, which makes it really good value. As it is the extra is now sitting in the freezer waiting for a day when cheese on toast for lunch just won't do.