Herb & spice potted rabbit

by Angela Clutton

This cross between a pâté and a rillette will keep for weeks

This larder stand-by cross between a pâté and a rillette, inspired by my article about potting, is well-worth the advance investment of time. It will keep for weeks and just needs to be brought to room temperature for serving with good bread and pickles.


1 jointed rabbit
400g rindless fatty pork belly, cut into 5cm chunks
70g pancetta or bacon lardons
2 bay leaves
1 onion, skinned and quartered
2 whole, unpeeled garlic cloves
4 thyme sprigs
8 juniper berries, crushed
2 broad strips of orange peel
100ml amontillado or pale cortado sherry
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 whole nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
220g unsalted butter
A sprig of parsley or dill for each jar

Storage jars of total capacity 1 litre


Lay the rabbit pieces, pork belly and pancetta or bacon in a single layer in a large casserole dish. Tuck around the bay leaves, onion, garlic, thyme, juniper and orange peel. Give it a good grinding of pepper and then pour over the sherry. Add enough water to just cover the meat with liquid. Bring to a high simmer, turn the heat down very low, and put the lid on.

Check after an hour that it is not drying out. Then after another hour turn the heat off but don’t lift the lid. Leave it alone for 30 mins.

Set a colander over a saucepan and strain everything from the casserole into it, making sure to keep the cooking liquid. Once cool enough to handle, separate out the rabbit meat, belly pork meat and pancetta into a large mixing bowl. Strip the fat away from the pork belly meat as you go—the fat goes into a mortar, while the meat gets added to the rabbit and pancetta. Discard the bay leaves, onion, garlic, thyme, juniper and orange peel.

Mix the meats together, shredding with your fingers or a pair of forks to get the consistency you want. Pestle the belly fat to a paste in the mortar, throwing away any pieces that won’t soften. Stir the fat through the meat along with the mustard, a good grating of nutmeg, the allspice and a ladleful of the cooking stock. Add more stock slowly to get a firm but moist texture. Check the seasoning.

Pack into sterilised jars, pressing down with the back of a spoon to eliminate any air pockets. Fill to about half an inch from the top of the jar.

To make the seal of clarified butter: melt the butter over a very low heat. Sit a square of muslin (or a thin cotton tea towel) in a sieve and pour boiling water over it. Set the sieve with its cloth lining over a jug, then pour the melted butter through.

Pour ½cm of strained butter over the top of each jar. Leave for 1 min then lay the herb sprig on top. Leave to cool, put lids on and store your potted meats in the fridge. Ideally don’t eat for at least a week to let the flavours develop. The unopened jars will keep for a couple of months but once the butter seal has been broken eat within a couple of days, making sure to bring the potted meat to room temperature before serving.