Simple Suppers – Barbequed Rabbit

I hold no truck with people who say things like, “how could you eat a cute little bunny?” If I’m going to eat animals I’m not going to be a hypocrite about it and decide which life is lowly enough for my plate based on cuteness. I will always try to buy meat knowing as much about the life the animal has lead as possible. I will seek out wild and free-range produce where I can, knowing as I do that free-range or organic does not necessarily mean sustainable or cruelty-free. I will never buy eggs or chicken that are not free-range and I buy beef, the meat most difficult to trace back to its origins (in Norway at least), rarely. Cuteness aside, rabbit must surely be one of the most sustainable meats when you think about how quickly they breed. For an interesting piece on why we should be eating more rabbit, check out this article by Steve Lamb here.

But back to the barbeque and yesterday’s Simple Supper! We set out to try this recipe once before in Malta. However, when we asked the butcher to de-joint our rabbit, as instructed by Jamie Oliver, he simply got out his butcher’s knife and chopped it into tiny pieces. The bits were too small and boney to barbeque and so they went into the pot with tomatoes, onion, garlic, olives, wine, bay leaves and thyme to make a beautiful pasta ragu. This time around the butcher, after joking that he knew nothing about de-jointing rabbits and that I would have to do it myself, expertly removed the legs from the saddle and the belly from the ribs, tossed the head aside and wrapped our meat in paper. The total came to €10.50.

We chose Jamie Oliver’s suggestion for barbequed grilled rabbit because he does simple, country cooking at its best. Mr A Little Piece of Paris is a huge fan of the same style (you might not guess it from these posts but he’s the master chef around here and I’m the happy helper). Jamie’s recipes are accessible to anyone who can get hold of good ingredients and they don’t require an elaborately-equipped kitchen. It doesn’t get much simpler than this:

  • Marinate the rabbit in chopped thyme, rosemary, garlic, lemon, honey and oil until it reaches room temperature.
  • Put the different cuts of meat onto the bbq at intervals, based on how long each piece takes to cook:
    • Legs and shoulder: 35 – 40 minutes
    • Belly: 25 – 30 minutes
    • Saddle and ribs: 15 – 20 minutes
    • Kidneys and liver: 4 minutes
  • Plate and serve with the side of your choice.

The rabbit sizzling on the barbeque smelled incredible. The meat takes much longer to cook than you would expect for such small pieces; I even think the legs could have done with a few more minutes, not because they weren’t cooked through but the meat seems to need the heat to soften up. Rabbit looks a lot like chicken on the plate and tastes like it but with a slightly stronger, more interesting flavour that lends itself well to the zingy the marinade. Because it looks so much like chicken, it’s funny to eat as you expect the bones to be in the same place and of the same shape, and they’re not.

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Barbequed rabbit

 

To complete the meal, we went for potatoes sautéed in a bit of garlic and parsley, then tossed them with cherry tomatoes and white beans in goose fat (you get these in cans from the French supermarkets); green beans for colour, crunch and fiber, and hunks of baguette. The potatoes and beans turned out really well and this self-styled dish is sure to become a regular on the Little Piece of Paris table.

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Sauteed potatoes and beans, in garlic and parsley

 

The rabbit was a success and has inspired us and reminded us of how versatile, cheap and delicious this meat is. Readily available at any butcher in France, we’ll certainly be trying it again. Watch this space for more simple suppers and if you have any suggestions about what to do with rabbit, in our tiny kitchen, I’d love to hear them.

LL

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