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Rabbit stew with prunes, cider and celery

10:37 03 August 2111

6 Add the cider and seed mustard. Add the stock. Bring to the boil.

7 Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven, gas 3/170C for two hours and 30 minutes.

8 Serve in a deep dish, decorated with a few fresh herbs.

4 Peel and slice the Bramley apple and add to the rabbit.

5 Add the lavender, thyme and prunes.

2 Dice the carrots and onions finely. Cut the peeled celeryinto batons.

3 Add the vegetables to the rabbit.

Rabbit stew with prunes, cider and celery

Continuing his best of Norfolk series, Richard Hughes of The Lavender House, in Brundall, serves up a rabbit stew.

One of the many good things to come out of these difficult economic times is the interest in cheaper cuts of meat, grow your own fruit and vegetables and the discovery of the art of the clever shopper. Over the last decade or so, our awareness of the provenance and quality of ingredients has never been higher. We may not have the spare cash to indulge this new found passion, yet we still want to eat well. Rabbit has enjoyed something of a renaissance on the table of late, the original poor mans fare. At the moment we have an influx of them, and, as long as you can remove the images in your mind of Watership Down and your first pet, it really is a tremendous meat. Mild, delicate, its often compared with chicken, but has so much more about it. Wild rabbits will need long, slow cooking; remember the adage, the more work the meat does, the tougher it can be, but the better it will taste. Youve doubtless seen them running in the fields and by the sides of the road; that tells you that they will benefit from a slow cooker or an Aga, but the flavours will be well worth the wait. Most good butchers will be able to source you a dressed local rabbit. If you happen to be given one in the fur, dont despair, its the easiest of all game fare to prepare. Be warned, many supermarkets stock frozen farmed rabbits, often from China or Thailand. They look great value but they are cheap for a reason they taste of nothing and are scrawniest of all animals! Rabbit is terrific in terrines, potted, as the classic Norfolk recipe with mustard sauce or in this wonderful stew. In the words of Mrs Beeton: First catch your rabbit.

Step by Step with Richard Hughes: Clever Cooking in Simple Stages is out now. Priced 20 at www.thelavenderhouse.co.uk; the EDP head office at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich; Jarrold; Looses Cookshop; Waitrose; Borders and most good bookshops.

Makes two portions

1 rabbit, jointed
Plain flour
2 small carrots
1 onion
2 sticks celery
1 Bramley apple
Sprig of fresh lavender and fresh thyme
6 prunes, stoned
1 x 250ml bottle of cider
1tsp seed mustard
250ml vegetable or chicken stock

1 Flour the rabbit joints then fry in the butter until lightly coloured.



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