Being perched on the coast, it's little wonder the people of the Basque country are fond of seafood. But this unique region also boasts mountainous areas which are full of rustic shepherds' fare such as this dish. Farcelettes are the Spanish version of bouquet garni - instead of being wrapped in muslin, the herbs are bundled and rolled in bay leaves like a cigar. The herbs and cinnamon add a nice mulled flavour and depth, while the chocolate, prunes and membrillo add even more density. Serve the rabbit with patatas bravas to continue the Spanish theme, or another potato side of your choice. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
- 1 large rabbit (about 1.5kg), jointed (see note)
- 400 ml red wine
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 70 ml olive oil
- 12 small pickling onions
- 100 gm piece of bacon, thickly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp membrillo (see note)
- 1 tbsp finely grated dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids)
- 12 prunes
- 4 each thyme sprigs, flat-leaf parsley stalks and oregano stalks
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 1Combine rabbit, wine and vinegar in a non-reactive container and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
- 2Preheat oven to 180C. For farcelettes, roll herbs and cinnamon in bay leaves and secure with kitchen string, set aside.
- 3Heat oil in a casserole over medium heat. Drain rabbit well (reserve marinade), then pat dry with absorbent paper and fry in batches, turning occasionally, until golden (2-4 minutes each side), set aside. Add onions and bacon to pan and sauté until golden (3-5 minutes). Add garlic, membrillo, chocolate, farcelettes, marinade liquid and 250ml water and bring to a simmer. Return rabbit to casserole and bake, covered, for 45 minutes, then add prunes and cook until rabbit is tender (30 minutes). Serve hot.
Note Rabbit may need to be ordered ahead; ask your butcher to joint it for you. Membrillo is Spanish quince paste. If unavailable, substitute regular quince paste.
Drink Suggestion: Big, rich, grenache-based Priorato. Drink suggestion by Max Allen