Rabbit with liquorice & salsify

by Luke Mackay

Luke Mackay makes the most of liquorice, inspired by an Italian peasant dish

Rabbit goes fantastically well with liquorice—the natural sweetness of both complement each other. The turnip tops, or ‘cima di rapa’, offer bitterness to offset it. This is, at heart, an Italian peasant dish. 

For more on liquorice as an ingredient, read Luke’s write up of his behind the scenes visit to Sweet Roots


1 wild rabbit
4 sticks of liquorice root
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
4 small carrots, peeled
2 tsp liquorice powder
4 rashers of pancetta
1 salsify root, peeled and cut into 1-inch sections
A splash of olive oil
1 bunch of turnip tops


Butcher your rabbit. Take off the fore and back legs and remove the loins. Brown the legs and the resulting carcass in a heavy saucepan, cover with 1½ litres water and add the liquorice sticks, onion and 2 of the carrots. Bring to a gentle simmer.

Trim up the 2 loins and remove the membrane so that you have 2 pristine pieces of meat. Sprinkle each loin with half tsp liquorice powder, and season with salt and pepper. Lay 4 rashers of pancetta out on some clingfilm and place the loins together on top. Wrap tightly into a sausage shape, twisting the cling film, and place in the fridge.

After 2 hours, remove the 4 legs from the stock and set aside. Strain the stock and reserve. Discard the carcass, liquorice and vegetables. Strain the stock again through some muslin and then boil hard until the stock is shiny and coats the back of a spoon—about 200ml. It should be quite intense.

Remove the wrapped loins from the fridge, remove the clingfilm and using butchers’ string, tie up so that it keeps its shape. In a large, heavy pan, fry the loin and the braised legs in olive oil over a medium heat until crisp and golden—about 12 mins. Remove the loin and glaze the legs with 2 tbsp of the reduced stock for a further 2 mins. Set aside with the loin in a low oven.

Cook the remaining carrots and salsify in boiling water infused with 1 tsp liquorice powder, until just tender. Add the turnip tops for the last min. Drain and set aside.

To plate up, place half of the turnip tops onto a plate, cut the loin in half horizontally, on an angle, and stand half per plate with a fore and back glazed leg. Garnish with the salsify and carrot, and finish with the reduced rabbit/liquorice stock.

Recipe: Luke Mackay