Be very afraid of the Wicklow Hunter’s Gun, gun, gun…
Sorry Bunnies, when the Wicklow Hunter is out and about with his trusty .22, you can be sure that there’s going to be a date with destiny. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Dates! Their lovely sweetness could go nicely with the slightly dry, gamey flavour of rabbit. Let’s prepare a Date with Destiny and Wild Wicklow Rabbit Casserole.
Youngest daughter who made a bit of a fuss over eating ‘Bambi’ is away in Canada so this is my only opportunity to bring ‘Thumper’ into my cross-hairs (or is that cross hares). I will be in trouble when she gets home.
There is a pretty long list of stuff to get the best out of wild rabbit. You could refer to the photograph but you will notice that I neglected to photo either the bacon or the wine. Here’s what you will need:
- 2 wild Wicklow rabbits
- 6 carrots
- 3 onions
- 4 stalks of celery
- 3 rashers of streaky bacon
- half a litre of good chicken stock
- 1 glass of good red wine
- 12 to 15 dates
- Flour for dredging
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and black pepper
- Cooking oil
The Hunter may have no compunction about shooting the rabbits. He did take pity on me and delivered the rabbits skinned and largely cleaned.
It just left me the job of chopping them into suitable pieces. Youngest daughter will not approve of this. Not one bit.
It is pretty easy to prepare. There are numerous videos online covering the topic. There is a good one here.
Then I chopped the bacon and fried it in the pan (skillet). Then I chopped the onions.
Then I chopped the celery.
Then I chopped the carrots and put all three into the casserole and sweated them off for 20 minutes or so. At this stage, I added the bacon, bay leaves and a bunch of thyme.
I let them sweat away while I browned the rabbit in seasoned flour.
I used the wine to deglaze the pan and added this and the stock to the casserole. I also added a half pint of water. When I got this to the boil, I put it in the oven, covered and slow cooked it at 120C for four hours. At this stage, I added some chopped parsley and the dates and stirred.
The sauce was not quite thick enough, so I transferred to the hob and reduced for 15 minutes. The end result, served with simple steamed potatoes looked like this:
We swilled a couple of glasses of a mid-bodied french red with the casserole. (Don’t judge us). We had to have something and this worked well.
All that remains is for me to show one more shot of the casserole and to stand firm on my decision to chop the bunnies. I have a month or two before she comes home. Plenty of time to come up with a reasonable excuse for youngest daughter. Any suggestions gratefully received, please. Oh, please…