Rabbit stewed with brandy soaked prunes

“Have you still got the head?” she asked, with alarming enthusiasm. “The brain. It’s small but…” and she licked her lips. “and the tongue…” and her eyes lit up. “But best are the cheeks – mmmmmmmm”
I had just explained to a French friend that I was going to make the following recipe. Unfortunately I didn’t have the head and so the delicacies that so excited her would have to wait. Funnily enough, I’m a little lacking in rabbit tongue recipes.
I like rabbit. It’s a much underrated meat and cheap too. It’s low in fat which can make it slightly tricky to cook. But only slightly. Apparently it’s not hugely popular here which was a little surprising. This recipe is most excellent, particularly as autumn is now approaching. The recipe is for four and you’ll need a day to do cook it. Not a day of solid cooking though. Most is just letting the stew rest.

Soak a dozen prunes in warmed brandy.

If you are in a peasant frame of mind, maybe treat yourself to a small brandy whilst you’re on.  There’s wine to come though, so don’t get carried away. I am always most impressed with the peasant style of having a small tot of hard liquor with a morning coffee but I feel it’s a habit I ought not to cultivate.

Get a rabbit skinned and jointed. Wash and dry the joints, season with salt and pepper and then fry in a casserole until nicely browned. Be careful though since there’s no fat and the meat can dry out quickly.

Remove to a side plate and then fry some chopped, smoked bacon, two or three chopped leeks and a dozen whole, skinned shallots in the same casserole. Once the bacon has gilded and the leek softened, add in two hearty glasses of decent, dry white wine [some for yourself too], 250ml of chicken stock, some thyme and a bayleaf. Put the rabbit pieces back in the pan and simmer for half an hour with the lid part covering the pan.

Now add the prunes and the brandy to the pan and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and, if the sauce needs reducing, remove the rabbit from the pan and turn the heat up. Put the rabbit back in and leave the dish to rest for a few hours or overnight. Reheat gently and serve with mashed potato [lots of butter and cream] and some veg and, of course, some more wine.

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