October 3, 2010 by bethanjthomas
For anyone in South London, Oval farmers market opens every Saturday to offer a wealth of ‘local’ organic vegetables, fresh meat, artisan cheese, crusty breads and full fat cakes. It does this at an amazing price and with half the pretentiousness of Borough. This weekend, in a moment of madness, we were tempted by a whole rabbit that sat on one of the stalls and to spend our evening cooking it.
Despite their cute, furry tails, rabbit must be one of the most ethical meats to eat given the ability that leporids have to breed and also the lack of bunny battery farms in the UK. A fiver for one of Bugs Bunny’s skinned and beheaded relatives seemed like a bargain although how to cook it was a mystery. But that’s why we have Larousse Gastranomique.
Larousse is an immense French reference book for cooking, which also has some recipes in it. It is structured like a dictionary, alphabetically listing virtually any ingredient that you could use in a French dish. If you look up ‘rabbit’, then not only will you find a description of what type of critter a rabbit is, but also a photographic guide on how to cut a rabbit into pieces and several rabbit recipes. Many of these recipes involve 24 hour marinades or making aspic jellies, not exactly a quick Saturday night dinner choice. Luckily, however, Larousse did have one recommendation that was do-able on a relaxed Saturday evening – rabbit with lemon and garlic.
The recipe only has 4 main ingredients – rabbit, garlic, lemon juice and white wine. After following the pictures and cutting our poor beast into 6 pieces, gutting it of all body organs, Jake browned the meat for 10 minutes. Adding 20 garlic gloves, a quarter of a pint of dry white wine and the juice of 2 lemons, we slowly bought it to the boil, added the grated rind of one lemon and a sprig of thyme and transferred it into the oven for an hour.
It smelt divine and the the lemon and garlic sauce did not disappoint. Tart and refreshing, it complemented the rabbit perfectly although we would have left the rabbit for even longer had we not already prepared our vegetables. To really slow cook the meat would have been fantastic, as it was a little hard to cut off the bone after such a short time.
Curly kale absorbed the sauce to great effect, with its rich, mineral coarseness sweetened by the lemons. Carrots and pink fir apple potatoes topped it all off. I’ll certainly be heading to Oval next weekend to pick another unusual meat to gut and cook. Tesco’s just can’t offer the same experience!