French Retreat part seven. The hottest day of the holiday, so I cook Rabbit and Prune Stew.

Rabbit and prune stew (1 of 1)The headline looks a bit long-winded to me. This is the last in my mini series so you will just have to put up with me being long-winded. We were in the Libourne market and I was suffering from a dose of ‘let’s get creative’. This is not a good condition for me. I was bereft of ideas and decided I needed to do something out of left field. That part of the park can often deliver good results. Hopefully I could translate that into French. With that in mind, I set out to ‘create’…

Amongst the stalls was a man selling prunes.

Just how you would expect to see prunes displayed. But the taste. Mmmmmm...

Just how you would expect to see prunes displayed. But the taste. Mmmmmm…

I got thinking. I then passed a van selling some lovely looking rabbit.

Loin of Lapin for less than €12 per kilo. Wow!

Loin of Lapin for less than €12 per kilo. Wow!

You can guess the rest.

The only issue with my decision to cook a Rabbit and Prune Stew was the weather. The afternoon wore on and the temperature touched a pretty warm 38º C (100º F). Still, I was on a roll and decided to cook on. A rustic stew needs a good quality rustic wine. Our gite host, David Furniss, suggested that I could try the wine from the vineyard outside our window. He then generously supplied a bottle of same. It would have been rude not to use it. Even ruder not to down a glass or two in the process. As it turned out, this wine was quite literally “Out of left field” and pretty tasty too.

I could see the vineyards from my bed. In the morning. Not at night, obviously.

I could see the vineyards from my bed. In the morning. Not at night, obviously.

The ingredients list for this stew is pretty short and really depends on the quality of that which went in.

Ingredients

  • One loin of rabbit 
  • 200 grammes (1/3 lb) of pancetta
  • Half a bottle of Domaine De La Bregue or similar nice French wine
  • 250 grammes (1/2 lb) of delicious prunes
  • 3 or 4 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 or four carrots 
  • 1 bouquet garni (rosemary, thyme and a bay leaf)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of flour – that’s half not 1 or 2!
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Olive oil
Not my best ever ingredients shot. The heat was getting to me.

Not my best ever ingredients shot. The heat was getting to me.

Slice the rabbit into nice big chunks.

I thought that this phoro had a nice 'butcher shop' feel to it.

I thought that this photo had a nice ‘butcher shop’ feel to it.

Slice the pancetta into lardons.

A totally gratuitous chopped lardons shot. Like I say, the heat is getting to me.

A totally gratuitous chopped lardons shot. Like I say, the heat is getting to me.

Fry them in a little olive oil until they release most of their fat.

The lardons add great flavour to the oil. The skin adds to the flavour.

The lardons add great flavour to the oil. The skin adds to the flavour.

Remove the lardons and skin. Discard the skin. Add the rabbit and brown it on all sides.

Lovely rabbit browning.I was reddening in the heat of the evening.

Lovely rabbit browning. I too was reddening in the heat of the evening.

Remove the rabbit. Roughly chop the onions. Add them to the pan and fry over a low heat until they are nice and soft. Sprinkle and stir in the flour.

The flour will stick to the onions and absorb the oil. add a little wine if it's too gloopy (technical term).

The flour will stick to the onions and absorb the oil. add a little wine if it’s too gloopy (technical term).

Add back the rabbit and lardons. Chop the carrots as shown below and add them along with the prunes and the bouquet garni.

I never thought I would be adding prunes to a stew. Live and learn.

I never thought I would be adding prunes to a stew. Live and learn.

Then add the wine.

Adding wine calls for a pouring shot. You know I love a pouring shot.

Adding wine calls for a pouring shot. You know I love a pouring shot.

Season, stir and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the temperature in the kitchen is as hot as it was in ours, be sure to drink plenty of water. If it’s cooler, enjoy a glass of wine.

"Here's one I prepared earlier." After three quarters of an hour, it's ready to serve.

“Here’s one I prepared earlier.” After three-quarters of an hour, it’s ready to serve.

I served it with white rice. We ate outside in the evening heat.

Red wine cooled, plenty of water and a hot stew in 30 degree heat. Delicious!

Red wine cooled, plenty of water and a hot stew in 30 degree heat. Delicious!

The red wine was cooled in the fridge. The stew was surprisingly delicious, given the evening temperatures. I can’t wait to replicate this during an Irish winter. If only I can get decent rabbit and great prunes….

That’s it for now on the French Retreat. Until next time, “bon vacances”, as they say over there.

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  • You can see the quality of those ingredients just from the photos (not that I’m dissing your photos). The finished dish must have been delicious. I don’t want the summer to end but that makes me long for autumn.

    • Thanks Linda. It has me wishing for colder days and warming stews.

  • That looks like a seriously good plate of food. Love your photos and am jealous of the heat and the french wine…

    • Thanks Jacqui, The heat is now a distant memory. We snuck a few bottles into the country on our return so we can look forward to that over the long, cold winter ahead.

  • Isn’t ‘rabbiting on’ another way of saying long winded…? Not that I think the title was unduly wordy: you needed to set the scene. The stew looked very, very tasty, and I will probably have to make it, considering it’s winter here in the tropics and our evenings are an invigorating 14C.

    • It’s still summer here in Ireland and our days are an invigorating 14C too. Pity I missed the rabbiting on. It would have been fun.

  • I bet he enjoyed those carrots 😉

    • That’s two rabbit related humour opportunities I did not see. Must have been the heat!

      • I think carrots are an essential accompaniment to rabbit – Bugs Bunny wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

  • Usually I’m not a rabbit fan but I think I’m going to have to change my mind 😉

    • If you can get good rabbit, it’s well worth trying. If not, don’t bother. There is a lot of poor quality farmed rabbit around and it should not be supported.

  • Looks amazing! Who knew? Prunes and bunny! Quick note to edit out: You have add the onions twice. Second time I think you meant carrots… 🙂 Be well! ^..^

    • Thanks Barb for the lend of your eagle eyes. I have made the relevant adjustment.

      • 🙂 Happy to help! My first and only rabbit was in Italy. We were visiting friends who have a winery in the Barolo region. On my second helping I saw an unusual organ on my plate. When the hostess asked if anyone wanted more rabbit my mom, who was sitting across from me, almost tossed her cookies! We took a stroll a short time after, and my mom said to me that she was going to hate telling my nephew that we had Thumper for lunch, and she certainly hoped we would not be eating Mr. Ed for dinner! 🙂 Mr. Ed is a horse.

        • Thanks Barb. I shot my first rabbit when I was a teenager. That got me over that hump. I am old enough (just) to remember Mr. Ed on TV.

          • Was not sure if you saw this program over there! Mom and I had a good laugh!

          • Stay tuned for peaches! Posting this today!

  • Rabbit recipes remind me of the day, many many years ago, when my sister’s friend called to say there was something wrong with our rabbit’s necks. My mother investigated only to find that a fox had decapitated all four of them. I never thought to ask what happened to the carcasses. Don’t remember anything being with prunes mind you…

  • I damn well need to make that! And it should be warm enough out here to emulate your self rendering conditions… The only problem is if I look to the left, all I see is a BBQ and the neighbours sunflower garden, of which neither are a suitable substitute for wine 🙂

    • Now that I’m home, all I see to my left is an apartment block and an office building. Love that “self rendering”.

  • Another great post, Conor. I like the prunes with the rabbit. I’d prefer to use rabbit legs for a stew, as the loins are very tender and I like them best with minimal cooking. Deboning the loins is a bit of a chore though…

    • That was a chore with which I chose not to involve myself. Still think of the flavour form the carcass in the stew.

      • That’s a good point indeed! Although not suitable for a quick meal on a hot day, I’d probably make a stock out of the carcass and use that for the sauce/stew 😉

  • I adore prunes in stews. I’m sure that one was worth every degree of increased kitchen heat. Looking forward to your next vacation.

  • Why do I get the feeling that 100 degree heat or not you quite enjoyed the planning and the cooking and the eating 🙂 !! Actually the prunes look great . . . ours have a tendency to come rather dried out in boring plastic bags!! And I love bunny I am afraid . . .

    • The prunes over there are pretty spectacular. We too suffer from the over-dried plastic clad variety.

  • This is something I must try. What a great story; you making this stew in 100°F heat! It must be good!

    • The heat was just bad planning. The stew was wonderful.

  • I could eat that stew any time of the year! Fabulous!

    • Thanks Mimi. Though, I think it would be a better ‘Winter Warmer’.

  • Never considered rabbit and prunes – wonderful idea Conor. Worth reading for the gratuitous lardon closeup alone…I look forward to catching up on the recent posts.

    • Thanks Phil, That’s the last of the French series for this year. Going all oriental for the next one.

  • Your rabbit stew looks divine and very flavourful. I’m sorry you had to make it in melting lava heat of the day but delicious. Loving your pour shots, especially with your flour .

    • Thanks BAM, We have a bit of fun with it!
      Best,
      C

  • lovely stew, beside the fact that rabbit is incredibly high protein and low in calories and fat, i lovin it’s natural sweetness…
    stew with only prunes maybe not too friendly for with my Indonesian licking, obviously i need some chilli flakes on it, lol

    • I am making a chilli this afternoon. Seven different kinds of chilli gone in!.

  • OMG…that looks fabulous!

    • Thanks Lidia,
      Even nicer now that the temperatures are starting to drop.
      Best,
      Conor

  • What a beautiful stew- I bet it was amazingly delicious! Thanks for sharing your amazing recipe- Sabine.

    • Thanks Sabine. It was fun to make and delicious, if you will pardon the self praise.

  • I’ve got a neighbor who breeds meat rabbits. Am calling him pronto. This is a great reminder of a great dish- lapin aux pruneaux. Reminds me of showing up in Paris during the canicule (massive heat wave) in 2003- I think it was August… and I ordered cassoulet because we were at this old time bistro- I think the waiter thought I was some crazy dumb tourist. He was right. That gut bomb still tasted amazing though.

    • I was in Paris that August. Temperatures over 40º. We spent some time in Eurodisney, melting and emptying the wallet.

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