Rabbit in red wine with pruneaux d’Agen

I was hoping to find something quick to cook in the village shop, but instead was tempted by rabbit legs.  My first thought was lapin à la sauce moutarde, rabbit with mustard sauce, one of the most common rabbit dishes in French restaurants.  But a quick search in Jeanne Strang’s wonderful book about the cuisine of south-western France, Goose Fat and Garlic, led me to try something new.  I based my recipe on hers, adding some juniper berries to the marinade and using shallots (large French echalottes) rather than onions.  I marinaded the rabbit legs in red wine, sliced shallots and carrots, pepper, bay leaves chopped garlic and juniper berries for about 5 hours, although Jeanne Strang suggests overnight.  At the same time I soaked the pruneaux (dried prunes that are a speciality of the area around Agen in the Lot, south-west France) in some more red wine.

marinade

The marinade smelt deliciously winey and oniony after a few hours when I drained the rabbit pieces and browned them and some more shallots in duck fat in a cast-iron casserole and stirred in a tablespoonful of flour.  I added the marinade, brought it all to the boil and simmered for an hour.  Then I added the pruneaux with their wine and simmered for a further 20 minutes.

I served the rabbit with millas, a southern French version of polenta, the recipe for which is also given in Jeanne Strang’s book.  I used some quick-cook polenta grains I had in the cupboard, with three times their volume of water, some more duck fat and chopped garlic.  When it was cooked (only 7 minutes with these grains although the more traditional method takes 20 minutes of continuous stirring), I spread it out on a baking tray in a layer about 1 centimetre thick and put it under the grill to crisp a bit, then cut pieces of it to accompany the rabbit and sauce.

rabbit with pruneaux

>It (almost) never rains …

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Believe it or not, this photo was taken in the middle of the day … and so were these:

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The rain will be good for the garden, but for today it means we can’t do any gardening.

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It’s time to eat comforting autumn food like this rabbit and chorizo casserole, with some of the last courgettes of the season, and a glass of red wine.

 

 

 

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This may have been the last butterfly of the summer, in the garden last weekend when we were sowing broad beans and peas.