Rabbit with Prunes

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I was looking through Stephanie Alexander’s Cooking and Travelling in South West France whilst I was preparing my last IMK post.  It includes a great chapter on prunes and I needed to check a few things… and I noticed this recipe.
Not so long ago, it was my birthday and Maus offered to cook dinner.  She asked what I would like.  “Rabbit stew with bacon,” was my immediate response.  I love rabbit.  I guess it is because we had a lot of it when I was a kid.  My dad used to trap them so they were a cheap source of meat.
Now-a-days, all the rabbits, in butchers, are farmed.  They are much milder than the wild ones I used to eat as a kid and, to my mind, not as tasty but still very nice.
Off Maus went to the butchers and, in no time, she was back with a frozen rabbit.  That was as far as my rabbit stew got.
When I saw this recipe, it reminded me of the rabbit in the freezer.  The only difference between this recipe and what my mum used to make is the addition of the soaked prunes which, clearly, is the French component.  I have an abundant supply of prunes, therefore, was keen to include them.  All up, a lovely dinner, even if I had to cook it myself.
This recipe is from Stephanie Alexander’s Cooking and Travelling in South West France.  It also appears in her book, The Cook’s Companion, which is in just about every Australian household.
Ingredients:
  • 12 prunes, stoned
  • 3 tbs* brandy
  • 125mls red wine
  • 1 farmed rabbit
  • 100g bacon or pancetta
  • 2 tbs* rabbit fat (rendered from the kidneys) or rendered duck or pork fat or olive oil
  • 500mls chicken stock
  • 2 onions, halved and then quartered, lengthways, or 12 small pickling onions
  • 1 tbs* plain flour
  • salt and coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 sprig thyme

*These are 20ml tablespoons

 Method:
  1. Soak the prunes in the brandy and wine for, at least, one hour (alternatively, use prunes already macerated in liqueur).
  2. Joint the rabbit.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan.  Set aside until needed.
  5. Choose a casserole dish big enough to hold the rabbit pieces and other ingredients comfortably.  In this pot, sauté the bacon in the fat until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  6. Brown the rabbit pieces in the fat until well coloured, making sure not to crowd the pot.  Remove each piece as it is done.  Do not rush this stage.
  7. Saute the onion in the fat until well coloured then remove from the pan.
  8. Add the flour to the pan, stir until well browned, then add the hot stock, stirring very thoroughly to achieve a smooth sauce. Return the onion, bacon, rabbit and its juices to the pan.
  9. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and the thyme, then cover with baking paper and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the casserole from the oven and stir in the prunes and their soaking juices. Return the pot to the oven for 20 minutes, then test for tenderness.
  11. Serve with mashed potatoes.

4 thoughts on “Rabbit with Prunes

  1. I’ve only had rabbit a few times in my life, but I enjoyed it when I did. That dish sure looks like it’d be good. I don’t remember the last time I saw it in the supermarket!
    I found your comment about your father hunting rabbits very interesting – I’ve read about -and seen- the old movies about how thick the rabbits were in Australia – some amazing footage. But just in case you thought you guys might be unique, I’ve sent along a link to one of the old jackrabbit drives they used to have in this part of the world. This particular one took place in Idaho, which is right next door to Oregon, but I’ve seen old film of the same kind of stuff that occurred here too.

    Hard to believe when you first see this stuff.

    • Hi Doc, Amazing. Rabbits are still a big problem in Australia. They are all over the place including my block. When I drive up my driveway they hop all over the place. There are burrows everywhere. One night they ring-barked 18 olive trees, little buggers. You can’t eat them anymore though, as Australia has released the myxoma and the calici viruses to curtail their numbers (which has only been marginally successful). Also, my neighbours have put out baits. The only eating rabbits available are farmed rabbits.

  2. This sounds delicious, Glenda. I like the idea of adding runes with a touch of brandy to the braise. I sure would have been happy with this dish as a birthday meal. (Happy belated birthday, by the way.) The braise we use is nowhere near so fancy. 🙂 I need to bring one to my Zia and record how she prepares it for a future post.

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