Rabbit stewed in riesling with prunes and pine nuts

Rabbit is considered a quality meat in Spain and it’s eaten often. When cooked well, rabbit meat is delicate and succulent.  At markets in Spain you will often find wild rabbit, it has a stronger flavour than farmed rabbit. I do prefer wild rabbit for its gaminess, but for this recipe I used farmed free range rabbit from the New South Wales Southern Highlands. I ordered one last week from Hudson Meats and when I picked it up I was in awe of the quality of the meat. I instantly got a sense that with quality ingredients your dish is bound to be a hit.

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This recipe reminds me of a dish I had at La Boqueria in Barcelona, conejo al ajillo (a rabbit casserole), The recipe arose after a market producer was looking to differentiate his product, they achieved this by selling rosemary-fed rabbits that they also began to cook at their shop. The rabbits are bred in a small village in Tarragona, the rabbits are put on a rosemary diet until they weigh 700g. The one I picked up today was almost 800g, a perfect size for a casserole pot.

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The rabbit, onions and bacon cooked in wine makes this dish warm and hearty, perfect for a cold winter evening. The recipe requires a dry white wine so I recommend a good Riesling that you normally enjoy drinking. The wine and stock will become a silky delicious sauce, so you will need good crusty bread to scoop the sauce. Your guests will be asking for more bread, that’s for sure, so be generous and grab a nice crusty loaf on the day.

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Recipe (serves 4)

  • 800g free range rabbit (cut into 8 pieces)
  • 8 pickling onions
  • 1 thick slice of Pialligo bacon (cut into 1 cm cubes)
  • 8 pickling onions
  • 380 ml Riesling
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 2 handfuls seedless dried prunes
  • 120 g toasted pine nuts

Preparation

Heat a tablespoon of good olive oil (preferably Spanish) in a casserole pot. Add your bacon and cook until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until they start to brown. Remove from pot and set aside.

Season the rabbit pieces well with sea salt flakes. Add a little more oil to the pot and cook the rabbit pieces until they are nicely browned, be patient with this process as the caramelisation will add more flavour to your meat. Remove the rabbit pieces and set aside. Pour the riesling and scrape the base of the pot to get all those sticky parts as they will add more flavour to your sauce. Add the chicken stock. Return the bacon, onions and rabbit to the pot, throw in your garlic cloves, bay leaves and thyme. Cover the pot and bring to the boil, once boiling reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Add prunes and simmer for another 30 minutes. You’ll know the rabbit is ready as it will start to fall away from the bone. Make sure to serve good crusty bread, as your guests will be wanting to scoop up the delicious silky sauce.

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