I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

August 1, 2011

Pancetta Roasted Rabbit

Time again for another Murdoch Books 365 Challenge!

They have a great team working their way through Stephane Reynaud's '365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat' Cookbook. And the blog includes a mix of all sorts of people who cook for fun. In case you missed it, I've done a couple of previous posts- Duck with honey and Rack of Lamb that are also on my blog.

Thanks to shows like Masterchef , rabbit is one of those ingredients that seem to be having a bit of a revival of late.
Just last week I found fresh rabbit in the meat section at Coles , at about $19kg it’s certainly more expensive than chicken but I’m always up for a culinary challenge and wanted to give it a go. My dad grew up trapping rabbits for the pot in the bush, and it was a staple of his family’s dinners, but I have to admit I’ve not had a lot of rabbit before. I remember the odd bunny stew, but that’s about it really. I chose this recipe to change all that.

1 Rabbit
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 sprigs of rosemary
6 French shallots
1 bulb of garlic cut cross ways
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
6 slices rolled pancetta
250 mls white wine
5o gr butter

First step, tackle the beast. The ones at Coles come whole, but this little fella came from the butcher who kindly offered to cut it up for me. I was tempted, but I like to understand my ingredients at a more basic level and decided to go it alone. The bones are not very strong and it’s quite easy to dismember the little bunny, so if you can’t get a nice butcher to chop it up, don’t be afraid to try and do it yourself.

It looks so nude and pathetic laid across my chopping board, I can’t help glancing across at my cat stretched out in the sun and looking for comparisons. I open the cavity and find a little plastic bag with the liver and the find the kidneys still attached, I take these out and wonder what to do with them... they aren’t included in the recipe. I’ve seen Gary and George scoff them down on the telly, so I cheffy them up a little by threading them on some rosemary twigs for a treat to go with the meal.

I take off the front legs, cut across the haunches and back legs, then straight through the saddle for two nice pieces. The ribs and belly flaps I trim off and keep, along with the fillets that run down the back, I’ll use these in a nice little pie later.

I toast off my peppercorns as my pan heats up, then take them out and add some oil.
The rabbit needs to sear well and get some nice colour on it to develop some flavour and caramelisation so let the oil heat as well before adding the meat. I let these colour on one side and turned them before adding the garlic, shallots, rosemary and herbs as I didn’t want the others burning before the meat was ready as it would add a bitterness to the pan that would come out in the sauce later. Pop the pan into a preheated 180*c oven and let it cook for 30mins.

Take the pan out the oven and reset it to 150*c.
Check the meat and see if it needs turning, some bits of rabbit are thinner than others and it can be a bit tricky not to let them cook too fast. Drape the pancetta across the pieces, I put extra on the front legs to protect them. The idea of the pancetta apart from adding flavour is to protect and even baste the meat a little. Rabbit has no fat to speak of and the melting fat from the pancetta will help stop it drying out. Pop the pan back in the oven for another 15mins.

Once you take the pan out the oven again, take out the pieces of rabbit and veggies. I chose to drain the oil from the pan as the sauce calls for quite a lot of butter and if I have to choose a fat to consume I’d rather it be that than veggie oil.
Pop the pan on heat, then deglaze with a glass of wine.

Now the last time I made on of Stephanes recipes, I used the sweet wine in the ingredients list and it was waaay to sweet indeed. Today, I was prepared and used nice dry white instead, there was no point preparing the meal if no one wanted to eat it after all, was there?

While the wine bubbles away, scrape up all the lovely brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the wine has reduced just a touch, whisk in the butter to make a lovely silky smooth thin sauce. I also added some more rosemary to lift the flavour of the dish a little and just freshen it up a touch.

Serve your rabbit with some nice veggies and a lovely drizzle of sauce over the lot. I used a creamy cauliflower puree to offset the saltiness of the pancetta, and I couldn't resist adding some carrots to go with the bunny.

The verdict?

The meat was tasty, lovely and tender with none of the gaminess I remembered and the sauce was divine, but although the kiddies enjoyed the meal and polished the bones of the rabbit 'wings', I would rather use chicken thighs at less than half the price.
Perhaps rabbit is cheaper in France?

So Dear Readers, have you tried rabbit before, and what did you think of it?


  1. I remember sitting down to a rabbit meal then my sister asked where our pet one was. We all refused to eat it after that even though my parents swore to us it wasnt our pet. I stil dont believe them. I dont eat rabbit. Give me beef, lamb or chicken anyday!

  2. Yum! I like rabbit. Fried like chicken, baked sealed in a cocoon of very moist dressing are my favorites, but any chicken recipe works. If you are unsure of the age of the rabbit the baked with dressing helps a lot for a tender rabbit.

    My folks raised rabbits for the table and Dad hunted them.

    Side Note: As my Dad hunted, Mom used the 'baked with very moist savory dressing' for the pheasant that he brought home. Dad always skinned his birds, less feathers to deal with and easier to find the buckshot.

  3. I think some of us might be put off by the thought of a rabbit but it looks really like a chicken!

  4. Fantastic!!!! My hubby is insisting we have rabbit again before the weather warms up :)

  5. The carrots look delicious! Guess the rabbit is missing out on them :)

  6. I noticed that Coles is starting to stock more interesting meats last year. Hehe I remember the first time we cooked with rabbit we had to specially order it from this fancy butcher. Now it's much easier!

  7. We used to trap rabbits for free, so there's no way in hell I'm paying 19 bloody dollars a kilo, lol!
    I love how you paired the rabbit with carrot, the recipe looks so tasty :)

  8. We stuck a whole rabbit into our Romertopf baker recently and it baked to delicious moistness - the boys loved it! If I cook it in pieces again, I'll have to get the butcher to cut it up for me - last time I tried it looked like it had been axe murdered! :)

  9. I can't look at my cats, stretched out in the sun, in the same way! THANKS! NOT!!! :-)

    I've eaten rabbit once. It had been smashed up by an inexpert butcher and there were chips of bone everywhere. It was unwonderful.

    But, I'm willing to have another go - and frankly, ANYTHING with bacon in, has my vote.

  10. Hello there Lovlies! What a beautiful day here today with Spring sneaking in a bit early, I hope it's here to stay. Spring also means lots of little lambs and baby bunnies, what's not to love!

    Simcha- I don't think your parents could be that mean... could they?

    Judy- I definitely think this was a nice young rabbit as it was very tender. My sister got a mouthfull of buckshot in her moose burger when she was in Canada, I have enough problem with fish bones!

    Tigerfish- I think it is just a mental image issue, I was OK except for the little bit of fluff on the end of the legs :(

    Muppy- This really is a nice recipe if you don't want to braise or stew it. I also like a nice rabbit pie.

    Chopinandmysaucepan- At least they all end up together- in my tummy :)

    Lorraine- It's much more interesting now isn't it? Our Coles has ice buckets of fresh fish in front of the counter so you can actually touch and smell them when you select your dinner- much better than hiding it behind the glass.

    JasmyneTea- I know, it's a bit expensive for a family meal! There's not a lot of meat on the bunnies either.

    Celia- Oh that's a great idea to cook it in that! I bet it was so moist and tender. The butchers make it look sooo easy, I guess practice makes perfect :)

    Ninehundred- Sorry sweetie, but I bet they wouldn't taste as nice, probably fatter though! :) I got half a duck once that was chopped up with a very blunt cleaver and was full of chips too, it put me off for ages. Yes, bacon makes the world go round:)

    Hope you have a lovely week Readers, and enjoy the weater while it lasts!

  11. That naked bunny on the chopping board looks so intimidating to me! Although I think I would like the challenge too. Love the addition of fennel seeds in this recipe - it's a spice I wouldn't think to pair with rabbit.