Kill it, cook it, eat it: WILD RABBIT
Wild rabbit stew with mushroom and tarragon (feeds four) COOK IT:
1 rabbit, jointed 250g chopped pancetta 250g mushrooms, sliced 2 stalks of celery chopped 1 onion, finely sliced 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tbsp of Dijon mustard 600ml white wine 375ml chicken stock 125ml single cream 3 tarragon sprigs; 1 whole, 2 chopped
KILL IT: There are over 40 million wild rabbits
in the UK. Every year, they damage hundreds of acres of crops, costing the agricultural industry more than £100 million, so don’t feel too guilty about preparing one for the pot. You can hunt rabbit all year round and the most humane way to do it is with an air rifle. Once you have caught your bunny, immediately expel its urine to avoid tainting the meat. Do this by holding the head and squeezing the lower body. Next gut it by inserting a sharp knife just below the ribcage, making a shallow incision about three inches long. Then, swiftly shake out the entrails by swinging the rabbit abruptly from shoulder height to the floor. You can cut them loose for the birds to nibble on. Ask your butcher to skin and joint the rabbit before you cook it. Do avoid bunnies with bulging eyes, unless you fancy adding a tang of myxomatosis to your dinner menu.
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What to do: Fry the pancetta in a deep pan until brown and add the chopped celery, onion, garlic and mushrooms. Season the rabbit and sear on both sides in the pot until golden brown. Remove all ingredients from the pot and set aside, deglaze the pot with the white wine and add the chicken stock. Stir in the mustard, tarragon leaves and sprig. Re-add the rabbit plus the mushrooms, pancetta, celery, onion and garlic and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Simmer for another 30 minutes without the lid on so the sauce thickens, and stir in the cream to finish.
EAT IT: Serve with steamed potatoes, seasonal
vegetables (leeks, carrots and swede) and a fresh white wine.
Top Five Sustainable Eateries: THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE, Islington The Duke takes sustainability and the environment so seriously it doesn’t stock any packaged nibbles, purifies its own water on the premises and only serves organic food. It also uses recycled furniture and composts all its food waste. Mains from £12.50. FACT: The Duke runs solely on solar and wind-generated power. www.dukeorganic.co.uk, 0207 359 3066 WAHACA, Covent Garden Voted Best Cheap Eat by the Observer Food Monthly Awards in 2008, Wahaca serves freshly prepared, ethically and locally sourced Mexican market food. TIP: Pick up a free packet of chilli seeds while you wait to be seated and join Wahaca’s newsletter for ideas on how to use your crop. www.wahaca.co.uk, 0207 240 1883 THE FEATHERS INN, Stocksfield If you have a taste for offal, The Feathers Inn may suit you. Its chefs are committed to using as many parts of an animal as possible in their concoctions to reduce food waste. Mains start from £10. FACT: This northern pub sticks with locally-produced goods and lists the farms which reared their meat on the menu. www.thefeathers.net, 01661 843607 CAFE-KINO, Bristol Café-Kino is a vegetarian and vegan cooperative. It is owned by its workers and run not-for-profit. Aside from selling homemade cakes and light snacks, it is also very ecologically-minded. TIP: Try the falafel sandwich with houmous, sweet chilli sauce and salad for £2.95. www.cafe-kino.com, 01179 249200
All photos: Emma Brunt
RESTAURANT ALIMENTUM, Cambridge Winner of the RSPCA’s Independent Restaurant of the Year Awards 2009, Alimentum offers ethically sourced, affordable fine-dining. Only free range produce and fish from Marine Stewarding Council-accredited sources are served. Mains from £17.50. FACT: Alimentum refuses to use fish caught by trawlers as this decimates the sea bed. www.restaurantalimentum.co.uk, 01223 413000