Thursday, 19 January 2017

Rabbit Stew with Pancetta and Tarragon

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This post was supported by Farmer's Choice. 

Deep down, I always feel a little bit guilty about cooking rabbit. I think it's because Bugs Bunny was my favourite cartoon character when I was little, and I felt sorry for him that Elmer Fudd was always trying to shoot him to put him in his stew. 

Fast forward about 35 years and here I am, doing exactly the same thing. 

Wabbit - er, I mean Rabbit's really tasty, and it's something we don't seem to eat much of nowadays. It's all fishfingers and chips promised for tea at the school run, and never game or rabbit stew, even though they're actually pretty cheap, and, depending on the time of year, pretty much available. But rabbit stew is a bit of a comfort food for me, because my Mum would always cook it - we'd eat rabbit stew a lot when I was younger. 

But this isn't the stew of my childhood. I've slow cooked the whole rabbit for 3-4 hours until tender and falling off the bone, and flavoured the stew with tarragon. Fresh parsley is sprinkled over at the end as much for colour as for its zesty, uplifting flavour. 


Rabbit Stew with Pancetta and Tarragon - Comfort Bites Blog


The rabbit was sent to me by Farmer's Choice, an online butcher that provides meat, fish, game and other foods too - where it arrived ready-prepared and frozen. All good. All you have to do is prep some veggies, pour over some stock and dump the rabbit in the pot in a low oven for a few hours. 

It might have been weird to me back then, but Elmer Fudd - he was on to something. 

I hope you like it. 

Rabbit Stew with Pancetta and Tarragon
Serves 4
Ingredients
1 tsp olive oil (or your preferred cooking fat)
80g smoked pancetta or bacon (diced or cubed)
1 white/yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
450ml chicken stock or broth
half teaspoon dried tarragon
3 large carrots, peeled and trimmed and cut into large chunks
1 whole rabbit (mine was from Farmer's Choice), defrosted, if frozen
salt, to taste
Fresh parsley, to serve

Method
First, heat the olive oil (or your preferred fat) in a frying pan and add the pancetta. Stir-fry gently, until the pancetta is sizzling and just beginning to turn golden. Peel and chop the onion and add it to the pan. Stir-fry until the onion is softened and just starting to turn golden at the edges and then add the garlic cloves and the chicken stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and sprinkle in the dried tarragon and add the carrot chunks. 

Place the rabbit in a large stew pot with a lid, or lidded casserole dish, curling it around so that it fits. Pour the bacony stock mixture from the pan over the top of the rabbit and replace the lid. Leave to cook slowly in the oven for 3-4 hours at gas mark 3/325F/170C. 

Once the rabbit is cooked, it should flake easily from the bone. Lift the rabbit out onto a plate and leave to cool slightly, just for a few minutes, until it's cool enough to handle. Shred the rabbit from the bones and drop the meat back into the casserole pot. Serve in bowls (season with salt to taste, although it should already be fairly salty from the stock and the pancetta), sprinkling fresh parsley over the top. 

Like this recipe? Ask your local butcher for rabbit, or check out the Farmer's Choice website, where they'll send it to you, ready for your freezer.

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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Sea Salted Chocolate Covered Dates

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This is one of those recipes that takes less than 5 minutes to make, but makes you so happy. Chewy, caramelly dates. Dark chocolate. Sea salt. That's it. You're going to love it. 




Originally, this was supposed to be a sea salted caramels recipe, where I'd blend the dates up with other ingredients and then roll them into balls and stick in the fridge, before coating them with chocolate. But when I came to make it, I just looked at the dates, all lined up in their little tray, and thought how gorgeous they are just on their own, as they are. Gorgeous. 



What I love about these are that they suit the purpose of both a quick kitchen worktop snack for your sweet tooth - but they'd be amazing to bring out at a party or after dinner for a posh dessert. 

As you know, I don't do well with dairy, so although you can use any chocolate you like for this, I use Ombar chocolate. It's made with raw cacao, coconut milk and sweetened with just coconut sugar. I love them. And they have a lot of different flavours and fillings, too. For these, I used the 72% raw cacao bar. Feel free to double up with ingredients if you need to make more. 




Sea Salted Chocolate Covered Dates
Makes 6
Ingredients
6 large, juicy Medjool dates 
35g Ombar 72% raw cacao bar (or your favourite chocolate, if you prefer)
pinch of sea salt flakes (I use Maldon Sea Salt)

Method
Take your dates out of the fridge (the chocolate will set more quickly if they're cold, but if they're at room temperature that's fine too). With a sharp knife, carefully make a slit down the length of each date, open it like a book slightly and remove the stone in the centre. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt in the centre of each date, and then push it back together. 

Break up the chocolate bar in a small bowl, and microwave, in 10 second spurts, until melted. Take care not to overheat the chocolate. It's better to take it out of the microwave if the bowl is warm and leave on the side, as the chocolate will continue to melt in the heat of the bowl. Just stir it occasionally to help it along. If you prefer, you can melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water instead. 

Once the chocolate is melted, take a teaspoon and spoon a little of the chocolate over the top of each date, hiding the cut you made to get the stone out, and letting it drip down the sides a little. While it's still not set, sprinkle with a few sea salt flakes.

Allow to set for a few minutes and serve. 


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