Wild rabbit and black pudding salad

Serves 4

For me, this salad needs to be earthy, and a good-quality black pudding works brilliantly in it. You could also lighten it with some asparagus tips, as I’ve done, to give it that feeling of spring. There are some great wild leaves to forage for at this time of year, such as bittercress, pennywort and young dande-lions, which make a salad such as this a real seasonal joy.

Ingredients

4 wild rabbit fillets from the saddle
150g good-quality black pudding, broken into nuggets
A couple handfuls of small, preferably wild, salad leaves and herbs
1tbsp rapeseed oil

For the dressing

1tbsp cider vinegar
1tsp clear honey
1tsp grain mustard
2tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

First, make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together and seasoning. Heat the oil in a frying pan, season the rabbit fillets and cook them for about one to two minutes on each side, keeping them nice and pink. Remove from the pan and leave to rest.

Meanwhile, cook the pieces of black pudding for a couple of minutes under a hot grill to warm them through.

Toss the salad leaves in the dressing, Slice the rabbit fillets into three or four pieces, and arrange them on a plate with the salad leaves and black pudding, then serve.

Braised wild rabbit with chocolate

Serves 4

You may think I’ve gone mad, but cooking savoury dishes with strong chocolate, such as Willie Harcourt Cooze’s 100% Venezuelan Black (www.williescacao.com), is traditional in some countries, and gives a great texture with a slightly bitter, but pleasant, effect. If you can’t find Willie’s chocolate, then opt for the maximum cocoa strength you can get your hands on.

Wild rabbits are generally sold whole. However, it seems a shame to use the saddles here, as they take much less time than the legs to cook, and can be a bit dry. Remove the front and back legs, or get your butcher to do it, and keep the saddles for a salad like the one on the preceding page.

Ingredients

40g flour, plus more for dusting
12 rabbit legs (back legs only), halved at the joint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
25g butter
200ml red wine
750ml chicken stock, or a good-quality stock cube dissolved in the same amount of hot water
60g-80g 100% cocoa chocolate or the nearest you can get, grated

Method

Lightly flour the rabbit legs and season them with salt and pepper. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and lightly brown the rabbit legs on both sides, then drain on some kitchen paper.
In a heavy-based saucepan, gently cook the onion in the butter until soft. Add the flour and stir well. Gradually add the red wine, stirring well to avoid any lumps forming, then add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, add the rabbit legs and lightly season. Simmer gently, covered with a lid, for 11⁄4 hours, or until the rabbit is tender.

Remove the legs with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the chocolate to the cooking liquor and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened. Put the legs back into the sauce and bring back to the boil.

Serve with some good mashed potato, a mashed root vegetable or polenta.

Mark Hix’s ‘Seasonal Food’ is available from Quadrille at £25

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