Today, cooking for others. Actually I made this on Saturday night and cooked it for another 3 hours on Sunday as the last time I made stew for guests, it didn’t have long enough in the pot and it was too watery. The recipe is from the re-printed ‘Plats du jour’ (originally published in1957, reprinted by Persephone Books in 2006) by Patience Gray and Rosemary Boyd – a birthday present from someone lovely.
Lapereau au Cidre
1 young rabbit
¼ pint olive oil
The juice of ½ a lemon
4 large onions sliced
2 ounces lean bacon or ham
½ pound peeled and sliced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
¼ pint dry cider
Joint the rabbit into four pieces and put them to soak for an hour in lukewarm water to which the lemon juice has been added. When the rabbit is ready to be cooked, take the pieces out of the water and dry each one well with a cloth. Heat the oil in a sauté-pan and brown the pieces of rabbit. Add the sliced onions and adjust the heat a little. When the onions are soft add the bay leaf, a little thyme, and the bacon or ham which should be cut into small pieces. In 10 minutes or so put in the peeled sliced tomatoes and stir them in with the rest. Simmer for another 10 minutes then pour in the dry cider. Let the liquid bubble rather fiercely for a minute or so, reduce the heat ad simmer with the lid on until the rabbit is tender. By this time the tomatoes, onions, and bacon will have amalgamated into a dense sauce. Taste the sauce, add a little salt and pepper if need be, and remove the bay leaf.
- I used a frozen wild rabbit – the smell was very strong and jointing it was very messy.
- I don’t know how you cut a rabbit into 4 pieces. I cut it into 6 pieces, cooked it for an hour or so on Saturday and then cut the thigh meat off the bones on Sunday morning before reheating so it would be easier to serve.
- After reheating it on Sunday morning, I decided it tasted monotonously and overly strongly of rabbit. Also more importantly, I was unsure if there was enough food for all of us. I added another pack of bacon (probably 8 ounces, which I browned first and then deglazed the pan with cider vinegar), another pound and a half of tomatoes, some more thyme, some rosemary and some marjoram and a lot more pepper.
- I then put it back in the oven for 3 hours without a lid so the fresh tomatoes would reduce.
- Using herbs from my garden is both very satisfying and makes me feel somewhat twee.
- I served it with a loaf of bread – there was enough food.
I wouldn’t categorise this as a fail in itself, more a failure of my squeamish modern palette to deal with that much rabbitiness and my powers of estimation as to how much meat one animal yields. The exact recipe would, I think, be perfect with chicken. I think I would reduce the quantity of olive oil. I was reminded however of how much I like rabbit, how lean and cheap it is and that I should make the effort to cook it more often.
Lapereau au cidre as the recipe intended.
Lapereau au cidre plus more bacon and herbs, after we had eaten most of it.
Stewed by Elly