In this piece for Shooting Times Tim Maddams rates ferreting for winter rabbits as among the best sport in the world — and he knows exactly how to deal with the meat. Serves six.
Crispy rabbit recipe
- 50g butter or olive oil
- 2 fully grown rabbits (cold smoked or raw), jointed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- A few fennel seeds and coriander seeds
- A sprig of fresh thyme
- 50g pork skin or bacon rind
- A little cider or white wine
- 1 pinch ground mace
- Heat the butter in a large casserole dish and season the rabbit. Sizzle for a few minutes to seal the meat.
- Add the diced onion, chopped garlic, coriander and fennel seeds, thyme and pork skin.
- Add the wine or cider (half a wine glass) and cook out until it loses the sharp edge from the aroma.
- Cover with enough water to immerse the meat, put on a lid and bring to a steady simmer.
- Cook low and slow until the meat is tender and about to fall off the bones. Once cool, remove and discard the skin and thyme sticks. Pick the rabbit meat from the bones.
- Season with mace, salt and pepper, and some fresh thyme leaves.
- Line a loaf tin with cling film and place the seasoned, bone-free meat in it.
- Cover and press, making sure that excess fluid can escape.
- Chill until set very firm, ideally overnight, then slice.
Stage Two — Breadcrumbing
- 3 eggs and 3 tbsp of water, beaten together
- 200g plain flour, seasoned
- 300g panko breadcrumbs
- A lined tub or baking sheet to keep them on
- Lightly coat the rabbit slices in the flour, then dip them in the egg mix.
- Drain quickly, before thoroughly coating in the breadcrumbs.
- Repeat the process and then refrigerate all coated slices for 30 minutes.
- Heat at least 1½in of oil in a deep-sided pan to about 180°C.
- Arrange some kitchen roll on a warm plate to drain the fried rabbit.
- A slotted spoon — or ‘spider’ — is best for lifting out and turning the fried rabbit.
Stage Three — Green sauce
- A fistful each of parsley, mint and basil, plus a little tarragon
- 8 capers and one clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 dsp mustard
- 1 dsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ pint olive oil — a good one, but perhaps not the best
- Chop the herbs and mix all the ingredients together
- Fry the rabbit until golden brown on the outside and piping hot on the inside.
- Drain well and then serve with the green herb sauce.
People often talk about their favourite quarry, but my answer tends to change along with the seasons. I prefer to eat seasonally and a lot of my shooting is based on what is ready for the table. However, one meat I enjoy throughout the year is rabbit.
Shooting bolting rabbits that have been flushed by ferrets is among the best sport in the world, as far as I am concerned. You get to enjoy a bit of everything.
You have to be reactive and quick but also steady and aware of your surroundings. It is extremely exhilarating making snap decisions about shot windows. It is not the best sport for meat. In winter, when most people are out ferreting, rabbits can be tough and stronger than most people like. Luckily, though, I have a recipe ideally suited to this kind of beast.
Nothing takes the slow-cooker treatment as well as a fully grown rabbit.You can flex the herbs and additions to the green sauce. And the recipe can be adapted to make bunny burgers with a barbecue sauce, or bao buns with hoisin, if you’re feeling really cosmopolitan.
You will need a good few hours to prepare this dish, ideally overnight, as well as some deep fat for frying and fancy panko breadcrumbs to achieve that extra-punchy crunch. Enjoy with a beer.