Simon Hopkinson influenced, no, let’s say shaped my approach to cooking from his masterful columns in the Independent on Saturday in the nineties. Having picked up a rabbit from the marvelous Jones ‘Eat beef ya bastards’ butcher in Katherine, I felt inspired. I recalled a rabbit article from the Simon archives. Cross referencing to ‘Week in Week Out’ (2007), I find he has a bumper 5 recipes involving Peter R. Annoyingly, they all revolve around the acquisition of two flopsies. On with one.
The first I made was rabbit brawn. First it was necessary to joint the rabbit to have the rear legs and saddle separate. Simon has a lengthy explanation of how to do it which I shan’t repeat, I’m sure a youtube search will be productive. So, everything into the pot (including heart, kidney, liver if present) bar the ample rear legs and the saddle which were for part deux.
- a large carrot
- an onion
- 2 cloves
- 300g pork back fat
- pigs trotter
- large sprig of dried thyme
- half a head of garlic
- slug of white wine (Portuguese here)
- stick of celery
Covered with water and cooked until the rabbit was able to be pulled off the bone. The rabbit I removed and carried on cooking until the trotter was also soft and the liquid reduce to a quarter. In the mean time I removed every scrap of meat off the rabbit, including offaly bits, and set aside. Then the same with the trotter, removing as much gelatinous material and soft skin as possible. Since this had been used for suturing practice I had to remove a few prolene sutures too. Not something to repeat in a restaurant.
These meat and pork fat I chopped to oblivion using my wonderful cheapo cleaver. Simon says ‘roughly’ but his photo looked otherwise. I then incorporated a handful of chopped parsley, a third of that amount of tarragon (grown in Berry springs, remarkably), some grated nutmeg, ground white pepper and a dessert spoon of Dijon mustard.
Into the somewhat tropically underused Le Creuset terrine dish, and the reduced stock poured over. I await with desire to eat this with my toasted rye flour and gherkin juice bread. Slobber…..
OK, next up is a fabulously simple French classic, Lapin a la Dijonaise, and the method I employed was similar to a wet braise as per osso bucco. Having jointed the rabbit as above, the saddle and rear legs remained.
- 2 large shallots (not the wee Asian jobbies), finely chopped and sweated in butter, then put aside
- gently fry the meat on both sides until beginning to brown
- add a splash of white wine, and simmer gently until this reduces to stickiness,
- cover with a lid on the pan (my lovely Danish Copco deep sided cast iron enamel)
- add a splash whenever the juices ‘stickify’
- when the meat has cooked (the meat contracts up on the bone, apprx 1hr), add the shallots and another splash of wine.
- remove the meat and add 200ml of creme fraiche or plain cream.
- Don’t fuck around with low fat shit here- 35% fat is a minimum
- stir and reduce a little
- add a dessert spoon of smooth dijon mustard, stir in and serve. A little black pepper, though white maybe more in keeping with the aesthetics of the affair. Yard long beans too.
Oh my life, what bliss. I made some mashed potatoes just with milk as the sauce is obviously super rich. Some beans on the side and a pinot noir from Tasmania so supremely good I’m tempted to keep this a secret. But since my readership is similar to the hectarage of the vineyard I will divulge- Two Bud Spur, 2009. Divine.