Watership Down has a lot to answer for. From the late 1970s onwards, even if we had been able to buy rabbit, few people could bring themselves to eat it. Of course, myxomatosis hadn’t helped – it wiped out Britain’s wild rabbit population in the previous decades.
All of this kept this subtly delicious meat from British dinner plates for several decades.
Only in recent years has it begun to creep back. Mostly, if you see it now, it is in a game pie mix, rather than in larger pieces.
That’s why I brought four legs back from France with me last month – I really fancied making lapin à la moutarde.
I had seen a recipe in France Magazine by its resident cookery columnist Rosa Jackson. In it, she explained that the dish originates from Burgundy. I guess that makes sense – the area is the home of Dijon mustard, after all. Mind you, like her, I opted for wholegrain mustard instead.
“The mustard held in the rabbit’s moisture, so the result was juicy and flavoursome – truly delicious”
She learned to cook it at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. I’ve taken a course in making macarons there but they don’t seem to run one of rabbit, so I followed Rosa’s recipe instead.
I smothered the rabbit in mustard and then roasted it for 35 minutes. After throwing in some finely chopped shallots and letting them soften, I added some white wine and crème fraiche and returned it to the oven for just five minutes.
I think the photo doesn’t quite do justice to the dish. What can I say? We were in a hurry, which, I am sure, speaks for how hungry the food made us.
The mustard held in the rabbit’s moisture, so the result was juicy and flavoursome – truly delicious.
Thank you, Rosa. And no thanks to you, Richard Adams. Or Art Garfunkel.