Recipe: Chintan Patel’s Saddle of Rabbit

Try out this recipe by Chintan Patel, chef at the Andover Arms, Thatched House, and Lord Palmerston pubs:

Rolled loin of rabbit with confit of leg & potato puree

For the confit of leg:

2 whole farmed rabbits, butchered so you have the legs, loins and bones (ask your butcher to prepare it for you)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little duck fat
20g cooked mixed wild mushrooms, chopped
Few sprigs of tarragon, chopped
½ tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp sherry vinegar

For the sauce:

All the bones from the rabbit, except the leg bones
Pinch of five-spice powder
½ an onion, peeled and sliced into rings
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
Few whole black peppercorns
200ml chicken stock
100ml veal stock
20ml double cream
40g runny honey
20ml sherry vinegar
3 sprigs of tarragon

For the rolled loin of rabbit:

8 slices of pancetta
2 loins of rabbit, boned
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter

1. For the confit of leg:
Lightly season the rabbit legs with salt and pepper and leave to marinate for 4 hours. Wash off the salt and pepper and dry with a cloth. Preheat the oven to 130°C (Gas 1/2). Place the legs in an ovenproof pan, cover with duck fat and bring to a slow simmer for 15 minutes, then cover with foil and cook in the oven for 4 hours.

2. Remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 180°C. Allow the legs to cool in the fat before shredding adding a little duck fat to moisten if needed. Add the mushrooms, tarragon, mustard and vinegar to the leg meat, roll out between two sheets of greaseproof paper to about 5mm thick and leave in the fridge for about 1 hour to set.

3. For the sauce:
Roast the rabbit bones in a flameproof roasting tin for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Dust with five-spice powder and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and put the tin on a medium heat on the hob, add the onion rings, garlic, thyme and peppercorns and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft. Deglaze the roasting tin with the chicken stock, then add the veal stock and cream and strain the sauce into a clean pan.

4. Put the honey in a small pan and gently reduce until it goes dark. Also reduce the vinegar in another pan by a third. Mix the honey and vinegar together and stir into the sauce. Bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Pass through a sieve and reduce once more; this time to a syrupy sauce. Just before serving, add the tarragon and season with salt.

5. Rabbit loin rolls:
Put a piece of cling film onto the work surface. Place four of the pancetta slices on the cling film, overlapping each other to make a single sheet. Lay one of the rabbit loins on the pancetta, season well. Then tightly roll the rabbit in the cling film and tie the ends. Repeat with the remaining pancetta and other loin. Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer, place the rolled loins in the water and cook for 20 minutes. Drain the rolls and carefully remove the cling film. Heat the oil in a pan, add the rolled loins and colour evenly, adding butter to finish cooking.

6. Potato puree:
Bring the potatoes to the boil in a pan of salted water and cook for 25–30 minutes. When soft, drain into a colander. Allow to cool slightly and then pass through a potato ricer or mash thoroughly by hand. Bring the cream, milk and butter to the boil and reduce by a third, then add the liquid to the potatoes until you get a smooth purée.

7. Serving:
Cut out rectangles from the confit of leg and place on plates to warm under the grill or in the oven. Cut the ends off each of the rolled loins, slice each in half and, removing the plates from the grill or oven, place the loins on the confit of leg. Drizzle over some sauce and serve with the potato purée.

Chintan Patel: Chef, food development and support manager for Tom Gavaghan of the Int’l.

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