Wild rabbit and oyster mushroom soup

Serves 4-6

Rabbits are cheap and plentiful, and so are oyster mushrooms-and, in fact, both ingredients are absolutely free if you’re a hunter-gatherer. If you’re not, then a rabbit will cost you a few quid and oyster mushrooms are cheap, and you can save the saddle fillets for a salad.

Ingredients

1 wild rabbit
1 small leek, roughly chopped
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
A couple of sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
2 litres chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
60g butter
50g flour
120g oyster mushrooms
1tblspn chopped parsley
2-3tblsp double cream

Method

Remove the fillets from the saddle of the rabbit and keep for a salad. Remove the legs, halve them at the joint, and chop the bones through. Place the rabbit, leek, onion and herbs in a saucepan with the chicken stock, season and bring to the boil, skim and simmer for an hour, skimming every so often.

If the leg meat is tender, remove them and put to one side or leave them in the pot. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour and stir on a low heat for 20 seconds. Whisk the flour mixture into the simmering stock and continue simmering gently for 20 minutes.

Strain the soup through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean saucepan. Cut the oyster mushrooms into even-sized chunks and add to the soup and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the rabbit and add to the soup with the cream and parsley and re-season if necessary.  

Wild mushroom tart

Serves 4

You can use a single type of mushroom or a selection here, it really depends on what you’ve foraged or managed to get your hands on from the shops.

Ingredients

250g puff pastry, rolled to 1/3cm thick
1 egg, beaten
2 medium shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
50g butter
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
200g-250g wild mushrooms, cleaned
150ml double cream
1tbsp chopped parsley

Method

Cut four rectangles from the puff pastry, about 14cm by 11cm each. Make an incision with a ruler and the point of a knife, all the way round about 0.5cm from the edge. Prick the pastry within the incision all over with a fork to prevent the pastry rising too much, then put the rectangles on a baking tray.

Brush the edges with the egg and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 160˚C/320˚F/gas mark 3. Bake the pastry for 8-10 minutes and remove from the oven.

Cut the mushrooms into even-sized pieces, melt the butter in a frying pan and gently cook the shallots and garlic for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and season, then turn up the heat and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning them every so often until tender.

Add the cream and parsley and simmer until the cream has thickened and is only just coating the mushrooms.

To serve, carefully push the centre of the tarts in where they’ve been marked with the knife prior to cooking, and then spoon the mushroom mixture into them.

Mark Hix’s ‘British Seasonal Food’ is available from Quadrille at £25 (www.restaurantsetcltd.co.uk)