Rabbit is a really underused meat in the UK – it’s not widely available in supermarkets, even though it’s one of the most sustainable meats you can buy. We bought some from our local butchers (one of them – there are about 5 independent butchers within walking distance from us!) and the meat is really delicious. It’s a very rich, gamy meat – perfect for a comforting autumn stew! This recipe includes some amazing suet dumplings with copious amounts of sage, another autumn treat.
For about 4 portions, you’ll need:
- Knob of butter
- Olive oil
- 80g smoked bacon lardons
- 6 small shallots
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 150-200g new potatoes
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 rabbit, jointed (ask your butcher to do this for you – you’ll end up with 6 pieces)
- 250 ml red wine
- Enough chicken stock to cover (about 1 litre)
For the dumplings:
- 50g suet
- 100g self-raising flour
- 5 finely chopped sage leaves
- Cold water
Start by peeling the shallots and chopping up your carrots, celery and new potatoes. We like our veg nice and chunky, they’ll soften and soak up loads of flavour as they cook. Heat up a knob of butter and some olive oil over a fairly high heat and throw in your bacon lardons and shallots. After about 5 minutes (the shallots should have started to go a little brown), add the rest of the veg along with the fresh herbs. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and stir through the veg – this will ensure you get a thick stew. Now add the whole rabbit pieces, along with the wine and the stock.
Once your pot has come to the boil, put a lid on it and place it in the oven on a low temperature – 150°C to 170°C, depending on how long you want it to cook for. The lower the heat and slower the cooking time, the more tender the rabbit meat will be. We cooked ours at 150°C for about 4 hours, but the rabbit will probably be cooked after about 2 hours. Take it out and stir it every half hour or so.
When the stew is about half an hour from being done, it’s time to make the dumplings. Mix together the suet, the flour, and the sage leaves, and start adding the water, about a tablespoon at a time. This should be done fairly quickly, otherwise they won’t rise properly. When it has all come together, roll it into small balls (about the size of golf balls – or ping pong, if that’s your game!). Put them straight onto the top of the stew – they’ll swell up loads, so be sure to leave some space between them.
Put the stew back in the oven and leave to cook for about 20 minutes. When the dumplings have roughly tripled in size, your stew is ready to eat! Watch out for rabbit bones, as they can be quite small and fiddly. If you’ve never tried rabbit before, please give it a go! It’s super sustainable, lean & healthy, and totally delicious.