A dish to make the best of summer’s tender young rabbits and a glut of courgettes
Summertime lends itself well to rabbit meat. This spring’s young have become late adolescent lagomorphs, perfect for roasting or pan cooking, juicy, light in flavour and full of tenderness. If you have older rabbits, you must slow cook them and remove the meat from the bones to make this dish. Courgettes are about the only thing as prolific as a healthful rabbit population, and this dish will require lots of them, making the most of that glut.
1 youngish rabbit, skinned and well-cleaned
8 medium courgettes
2 large unwaxed lemons
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
½ bunch of mint
A few chilli flakes
Pre-heat the oven to ‘very hot’. First, get three-quarters of your courgettes sliced and into a hot saucepan with all the garlic, a few chilli flakes and plenty of salt. Cook them, and cook them, and cook them until you have a rich courgette pulp. Switch the pan off but allow it to stay warm—this part of the dish could take around 40 mins, but you can be getting the other bits ready at the same time.
Place a good solid roasting dish in the oven to get hot. Rub your skinned and cleaned rabbit with lots of good olive oil and season it well with salt, pepper and chopped fresh rosemary. Sling the rabbit into the hot roasting dish and roast in the oven for 10 mins. After 10 mins add the juice of one of your lemons to the rabbit and turn it over. Roast for a further 10 mins then turn the oven off and add the juice of the second lemon. Cover the roasting dish and leave in the now cooling oven for a further 10 mins then remove it and allow it to rest.
Meanwhile, slice your remaining courgettes into long ribbons—you can use a slicer or a peeler if you like, but a good sharp knife will do fine. Place these in a bowl with a few chilli flakes, a little salt, and half the mint leaves. After a few minutes, dress the courgette strips with olive oil and some of the juices from the rabbit roasting pan.
Chop up the rabbit with a big heavy knife and serve it on the bone—we want everyone to get a little of the saddle and a little of the leg meat. Try not to serve shards of bone in your dish, by making your chopping action clean and assertive. I serve a couple of bits of rabbit on top of a small amount of the slow-cooked courgettes and then top with the raw dressed courgette and a little more mint, rosemary and some more of the roasting juices from the roasting dish. I like to serve this with a nice cool, hopped ale.
Recipe: Tim Maddams