Rabbit

Rabbits. Bunnies. Big teeth and twitching whiskers, soft fur and cuddly plumpness, young children frolicking with them in the garden.

Rabbits: skinned, butchered, sold, covered in congealed blood, with their internal organs still attached for £3.50 at Fellers.

Now, obviously, the rabbits sold at Fellers are not your garden, pet variety, so don't worry about giving a three year-old nightmares. Having said that, you can't get away from the fact that what you're buying was a rabbit; it'll still have big, tasty haunches and silly little forelegs that make even chicken wings look fiddly.

But please, do buy wild rabbit. It's cheap, healthy (low fat, guaranteed free range) and quite tasty, as well as being versatile. Now, you're all asking me what it tastes like; the answer is, as with many descriptions of unusual meats, just like chicken. However, that really is the case here, and any stew that demands chicken can usually just as easily be done with rabbit.

Don't try substituting rabbit in roasting recipes, though; it is a wild animal and spends much of its life on the run, and has very little fat. The hind-quarters can just about stand to be roasted if sufficiently buttered, larded or baconed, but it really isn't the best thing to do with the meat.

Bacon never goes amiss, though. A classic is rabbit, bacon and mustard stew; or you could use the bacon as a base for a rich tomato casserole in which to cook your bunny din-dins. In fact, there are almost as many rabbit and bacon recipes as there are additional flavours to complement them.

Rabbit will also work well with any kind of wine, so that can be used to deglaze a pan. The cooking method for any rabbit stew should, of course, pass from a thorough browning via deglazing through to a long, slow cooking in a low oven. If you want to make the sauce richer, cream is a good way to do this at the end of the cooking and, since we're dealing with an ingredient with very little fat, you've no need to feel guilty.

Not that I've ever felt guilty about cream in any circumstances. Nor have I ever felt bad about killing cute animals.

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