Charcutepalooza #10 Stretching
It’s that time of month again, in fact my favourite time of the month – the weekend I get to make the monthly Charcutepalooza challenge. This months challenge is stretching. It’s about stretching your skills and stretching the ingredients to go further. The apprentice challenge is rillettes or confit and the charcuterie challenge is galantine or roulade. Over the last year I haven’t really chosen a challenge based on the skill level, the decision is always based on what appeals to me, and this month it was the rillettes, or “potted meat” as it is more commonly known as in the UK.
I have made potted duck successfully before, and tried to make rabbit confit, but the rabbit didn’t work, so not to be defeated I decided this month was the month for potted rabbit. I’ve had a few bad experiences with rabbit in the past, but I really feel like it is something I should like so over the years I have persisted. The first bad experience was not entirely my fault, I think the rabbit was off, and it was the only meal I have cooked in eleven years that neither myself or my husband could eat. Thankfully that was many years ago, and once the memories had faded I was willing to give it a go again, this time time to make confit for pasta. This time the rabbit tasted good, but it was too salty to be enjoyable. So this challenge has given be a chance to redeem myself, third time lucky.
As with much of my cooking I read a few rabbit and confit recipes to come up with something that I thought would work. Some confit recipes suggest you should salt the meat before it is cooked, but I think this is why my last rabbit confit was so salty, so I skipped this phase and reduced the salt in the recipe to one tablespoon.
Making the potted rabbit was a two day process, but the wait was worth it. I achieved the tender rabbit that I wanted after 6 hours in a low oven. Once the meat was combined with some acidic flavours that cut through the fat, it was delicious, moist spread for toast, or served with a bitter witlof salad.
And this recipe certainly fulfilled the “stretching” brief. It’s amazing how much meat you can get from one small rabbit when it is cooked to the point that it falls off the bone. I have five generous ramekins of potted rabbit to keep me going for a few weeks.
Here is my recipe for Potted Rabbit:
For the confit:
600ml duck fat
4 bay leaves
small handful of thyme
small handful of tarragon
1tbsp sea salt
40g grain mustard
6ml white wine vinegar (or to taste)
1/2 tsp caster sugar (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
This recipe as taken me two days to complete. If you are more organised than me you could do it in a day, but I had to go on a mission to find duck fat as my pot of home rendered fat was all out. Start by making the confit. Pre-heat the oven to 100C. Joint the rabbit by taking off the shoulders and legs then chopping the saddle in half. I followed this helpful video I found on Jamie Oliver’s website, except my rabbit was smaller so I cut the saddle into two pieces so all pieces of rabbit were a fairly even size.
Gently heat the duck fat until it has turned into a liquid. Put the rabbit, bay leaves, thyme and tarragon sprigs, salt and peppercorns into an oven proof dish that will fit all ingredients snugly. Pour the duck fat over the rabbit until it is all covered, you may need slightly more/less than the 600ml depending on the size of your dish, the most important bit is that everything is submerged in the fat. Put a lid or foil on the dish and place in the pre-heated oven and cook gently for 4-6 hours, occasionally checking that the meat is all still submerged. I also had to move the rabbit pieces around part way through as they was starting to stick to the base of the dish. You will know when the rabbit is ready as it will start to fall away from the bone when you try and pick it up.
When the rabbit is ready remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing the rabbit meat from the bone. At this point I allowed the rabbit to cool completely in the fat and kept it in the fridge over night as it was too late to start picking meat from the bone. The following day I gently reheated the fat in the oven so I could remove the rabbit pieces easily.
Once you have removed the rabbit pieces from the fat, strain the fat through a fine sieve into a pan and put to one side. Pull all of the meat from the the rabbit bones and shred finely into a bowl, making sure all of the bones, sinew and gristle are removed.
Pour about 50ml of the reserved duck fat into the shredded rabbit meat, add the mustard, and white wine vinegar and stir to combine. At this point taste the rabbit mixture to check the seasoning. I have made confit’s before that have been way too salty so didn’t need to add any more salt, but with 1 table spoon of sat in the confit this was just about right. I added a sprinkle of salt, pepper to taste and about half a teaspoon of caster sugar.
When the rabbit mixture is seasoned to your liking, spoon into 4-5 small ramekins and pack down with the back of a spoon. Pour a thin layer of the duck fat on top of the rabbit mixture to seal then refrigerate until the fat is set.
There are many ways to serve the potted rabbit. It was great served simply on toast, but to create something a little more special, serve with a side salad of witlof/chicory/endive (insert appropriate terminology from the country of your residence) drizzled with a grain mustard and olive oil dressing.