- 450g shallots
- 2 onions , thinly sliced
- 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
- 300g carrots , thickly sliced
- 200g pack unsmoked bacon lardons (or use streaky bacon)
- 3 wild rabbits , jointed into shoulders, legs and saddle pieces (mine were 600g each, gutted weight, no heads)
- 2 tbsp plain flour , seasoned well
- 25g butter , plus a knob
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 600ml full-bodied red wine
- 400ml chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- few thyme sprigs , plus extra to garnish
- 300g button mushrooms
- STEP 1
Soak the shallots in boiling water for 5 mins, drain, then peel – this makes it a lot easier to remove the skins. While they are soaking, slice the rest of the vegetables. Heat a large, wide flameproof casserole dish, then add the lardons. Fry for 5 mins or until the fat has run from the meat, then tip in the vegetables and cook for 10 mins until golden and starting to soften. Tip into a bowl.
- STEP 2
Toss the rabbit meat with the flour, then tap off the excess. Heat half the butter and oil in the dish, then brown half the rabbit for 10 mins until golden all over. Add a good splash of water, scrape around the dish and tip the juices into a jug. Repeat with the second batch of rabbit, but use the wine to deglaze the pan this time, letting it reduce by about a third.
- STEP 3
Add the rabbit and the vegetables to the wine, pour in the stock, stir in the herbs and bring to a simmer. Cover, leaving just a small gap for steam to escape, then simmer for 1½-2 hrs or until the meat falls away from the bones. If you like a thicker sauce to your stew, you can lift out the meat and vegetables and boil the sauce to thicken it a little. To finish, heat the knob of butter in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms with salt, pepper and a few thyme leaves over a high heat until browned. Spoon these over the stew, sprinkle with thyme leaves and bring to the table.