Rabbit stew with Dijon mustard

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This is one of those dishes that fills me with happy and eager anticipation whenever I see it on the menu in a restaurant. I like to finish the sauce with a little crème fraîche.

Ingredients

For the rabbit stew

Method

  1. To make the rabbit stew, spread the rabbit joints with 2 tablespoons of the Dijon mustard. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

  2. Heat half of the duck fat in a flameproof casserole dish. Brown the rabbit pieces all over and transfer them back to the bowl. Deglaze the dish with the wine and pour this over the rabbit in the bowl.

  3. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Heat the remaining fat in the casserole dish and fry the onion, garlic and lardons. When they have browned and softened a little, add the flour and cook for a minute or so. Gradually add the chicken stock, stirring well after each addition to make sure there are no lumps.

  4. Put the rabbit back in the casserole dish, cover and bring to a simmer. Transfer the stew to the oven and cook for 1¼ hours, or until the rabbit is tender. Check the rabbit is cooked through – the meat should be starting to fall off the bone. Poke the leg portions and the saddle pieces with a knife and if it doesn’t slide in easily, return the casserole to the oven for 15–20 minutes and then check again for tenderness.

  5. Remove the rabbit from the casserole dish and keep it warm. Place the dish on the hob and stir in the tarragon, crème fraîche and remaining mustard. Put the rabbit back in the dish and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warmed bowls.

Recipe Tips

If you don't fancy cooking with rabbit, you could easily use skinned chicken joints in this recipe instead.

You can use ready-made chicken stock for this or follow Rick Stein’s recipe for stock:

Makes about 1.75 litres/3 pints

bones from a 1.5kg/3lb 5oz chicken or 450g/1lb chicken wings, drumsticks and leftover bones from a roasted chicken

1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and roughly chopped

2 leeks, trimmed and sliced

2 bay leaves

2 fresh thyme sprigs

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan with 2.25 litres/4 pints water, bring to the boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer. Skim off any scum from the surface then leave the stock to simmer very gently for 2 hours. Do not let it boil again as that emulsifies any fat and makes the stock cloudy. Strain and then simmer for a little longer to concentrate the flavour if desired.