Cinnamon and spice and all things nice
About 10 years ago my father gave me a book as present. It’s a cook book without any photos, dubious hand drawn illustrations and no portion sizes in any of the recipes. It is written unapologetically in a strong dialect with a glossary at the back to explain many of the words. I suspect the first edition was found in a cave. It’s not for the faint hearted: offal, stomach lining, no part of any animal is safe. But there is also beauty to be found in the writing because it’s honest and the flavours and spices are what the East Mediterranean is about.
I am in London and it is cold outside and I want to make a wild rabbit stew. With cinnamon and red wine vinegar served with rice-like pasta, fresh parsley and a generous grating of cheese. The following recipe is decoded from the book my father gave me with some minor adaptations. I bought the rabbit from Godfreys butchers in Highbury (see links page). They sell the rabbits whole but will happily joint them if asked.
This is my ultimate East Med winter warmer, the stew recipe is enough for a hungry 6 (I’ll freeze some to have during the week) but the pasta is enough for 2.
1.5 kg of wild rabbit, jointed
1.5 kg of onions, sliced
375ml of water
250ml of good quality red wine vinegar
230ml of oil (half vegetable half olive)
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (each at least 8 cm in length)
2 carrots, diced
One tablespoon of tomato puree
Half a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
180g of kritharaki pasta (orzo)
500 ml of good quality chicken stock
Salt to taste
Some mild hard cheese to grate (sheep or goat)
- Heat the oil in a large heavy pan (big enough to accommodate the stew). Seal and brown the rabbit (it will take 2 -3 batches) and set aside.
- Turn the heat right down and put in the prepared onion, carrots and the cinnamon sticks. The onions need to soften but not colour and this should take around 30 minutes.
- Once the onions have soften turn the heat up, add the vinegar, bay leaves, tomato paste and peppercorns. Once everything has been combined turn the heat down and add the rabbit and water. Add a little salt and ground pepper (you can add more at the end). Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
- The rabbit is ready when the meat comes of the bone easily. Turn the heat off but keep covered and allow to rest.
- Boil the stock for the pasta and cook as per packet cooking instructions, I treat it like rice and so I use a 2 parts liquid to 1 part pasta. It should take about 13 minutes (the 100% durum wheat kind).
- Once the pasta is cooked serve the dish by spooning some pasta on a plate then generous amounts of stew, fresh parsley and lots of grated hard cheese. Oh and a very large glass of pinot noir (not East Med but it works).