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.


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 …



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.



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.






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