Rabbit and Olive Stew – It really is a small world.

Rabbit and olive stew (15 of 16)I really am lucky in many aspects of my life. As an occasional lotto ticket buyer, I have a know that all I buy is the period of anticipation in advance of the reality of not winning. Sometimes, even that can represent good value. For clarity, I have not won the lotto. No, my luck is a bit different. It reveals itself in the love and support of my family and occasionally, through my bunch of great buddies with whom I go cycling. “How does any of this have anything to do with Rabbit Stew with Olives?” I hear you think loud. Let me explain…

While out for a recent cycle, I was chatting with fellow cyclist (and highly talented Executive Chef at Dublin’s Drury Buildings), Warren Massey. Naturally enough, the topic of food arose, as it always does. I couldn’t contain my delight at having got my hands on a brace of wild Irish rabbit. “Oooohhhh, you know what would go lovely with that?” enthused Warren. “Olives. They are excellent with rabbit. You have to try it with olives!”  We discussed other rabbit parings, prunes being my favourite. Later in the day, on Warren’s advice, I took myself off to the Sunday market in Dun Laoghaire’s People’s Park, knowing that I could get some from the Lilliput Trading Company, purveyors of some pretty fine olives.

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Buying from Lilliput proves it really is a small world….

Chatting with the chap from Lilliput (the ironically tall guy on the left, not the small guy on the right), I mentioned that my friend Warren had made the recommendation to get olives. He laughed and told me that his company had had a night out in Drury Buildings only a few nights previously. Small world indeed.

Rabbit stew

Most of what you will need. I neglected to include flour and  a pint of chicken stock.

Now, to the recipe for Rabbit Stew with Olives:

  • 2 good quality wild (or farmed if you aren’t lucky) rabbit
  • 100 grammes of mushrooms
  • 3 onions
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 200 grammes of pitted black olives
  • 500 ml of good quality chicken stock (Not in the photo.)
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of both rosemary and thyme
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Flour to dust the rabbit (Not in the photo.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Potatoes to accompany

Prepare the onions, celery and carrots into a rustic mirepoix.

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Pretty fancy carrot slicing yields a nice chunky edged carrot slice.

Peel and slice the mushrooms. Add the mirepoix to a casserole. Cover and sweat them down over a low heat. Take out your big knife, looking bigger now as it really is a small world. Slice the rabbit into bite-size chunks.

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Big or small, this poor bunny won’t see any more of the world.

Dust the meat in seasoned flour. Brown it in a hot frying pan.

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Brown it on all sides. It adds flavour and colour to the stew.

Add the rabbit and herbs to the casserole. Add the mushrooms to the pan and stir until they have reduced by about three quarters.

Side note on deglazing the pan: It is possible to deglaze the pan without using any liquid. The mushrooms release lots of liquid as they fry and this deglazes the pan. The tasty bits then stick to the mushroom. This then all ends up in the stew. The pan is very easy to clean too. 

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The mushrooms start to deglaze the pan. Lots of concentrated flavours.

Add the mushrooms and stock to the casserole. Season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and pop it into a 200ºC hot oven and leave it there for half an hour. Add the olives. Leave it for another thirty minutes. Check the casserole and adjust the seasoning as appropriate. If the stew is a little watery, remove the lid and let it reduce a bit. This may take 15 minutes (That’s how long it took me). Serve the stew along with some nice potatoes (small and waxy).

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Note the fancy shape of the carrot slices. This little bit of texture is nice.

This is a delicious rustic stew, ideal for a cold winter’s day. The last bit of ‘Small Worldism’ has to be the fact that eldest daughter and her other half joined us for dinner. They had other half’s younger brother in tow. I told him my Lilliput / small world story as we ate. He remarked; “That’s strange, I was in the market in Dun Laoghaire this afternoon too.” Small world or what!

Give the stew a go. It’s easy, tasty and may make the world a little bit smaller for you too.

Footnote on commercialism: Warren is my friend and the link to the Drury Buildings above is so you can benefit from the pleasure of his fantastic cooking, nothing more. The Lilliput lads get a mention purely because they are nice people and sell lovely olives. If you happen to buy a lotto ticket and win, remember, commercialism is a two way street and it’s a small world…..

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  • Yum. Can’t beat a bit of wild bunny. And good things come in small packages, or so Irishmen were always telling me when I lived in Dublin. 😀

    • I hate when people take the lazy way out and just say LOL.

      But, LOL.

  • Er … didn’t mean that to sound quite as smutty as it probably did. Sorry, still on first cup of coffee of the day.

    • You should give up the coffee altogether Linda. Then you should write something along the lines of 80 Shades of Dark Grey….

      • I could probably manage a Whiter Shade of Pale. 🙂

  • I can only get the farmed kind here; it’s virtually impossible to own a gun legally these days in Australia (a very good thing), but it makes wild game hard to find (a very bad thing). I wish the world truly was a bit smaller. It costs rude amounts of money to visit Europe these days…

    • When you do, I’ll cook you this stew. I’ll even throw a third on in the pot so you can bring your other half too.

      • I shall want a sous vide demo too, you realise! Himself is very grateful for the consideration, and likes a nice bit of rabbit…

        • The SV demo is obligatory for all visitors.

  • Looks delicious Conor. I love the tip about the mushrooms deglazing the pan. But I fear you have taken away my excuse for copious amounts of wine in my stews.

  • That sounds absolutely delicious and almost Spanish. Excellent idea, I might try that myself 🙂

    • Happy Days MD. It is very close to Catalan, for sure.

      • You just need the addition of a few snails, like the one I had yesterday 😉

        • I’ve not had them in yonks. Must do something about that when in France later in the year.

          • I thoroughly recommend them with rabbit.

  • Lovely rabbit. I’ve got one in the freezer 😉

    • This is a worthy way to see it off Rosemary.

  • I’m not a fan of rabbit myself but will be printing this off and giving this recipe for my father. He is quite a cook and will love this recipe! Thanks Conor!

    • Thanks DD. I appreciate you doing that. I hope he likes it.

  • Excellent post and dish as always, Conor. I suppose this could be made with chicken if one can’t find a bunny, wild or otherwise?

    • No reason not to. Though I would use legs and thighs for it. More flavour for this robust type of stew.

  • Olives? Who would have thought? Looks fantastic as always Conor! I really like the mushroom deglazing tidbit.

    • Thanks Tony, I discovered the mushroom thing by accident. But, I love doing it as it’s “mine”.

  • I haven’t had rabbit since a child when my parents hunted for them. So incredible tasting and now I’m wondering where I’d acquire one in these parts of Ireland. Hmmm…I’ll have to work on that.

    • A wire snare or a .22. I don’t approve of the snare. Though, I don’t picture you as a gun totin’ hombre Melissa.

      • Well, you’re half right–I don’t tote a gun anymore but am actually a sharp shooter with an M-16 as well as at grenade throwing. I spent four of my tenderist years in the US Army.

        On my first trip to Inis Mor I killed a pheasant with a stone from about 40 feet away. Though there wasn’t much meat on it, it still really impressed the future father in-law.

        There are plenty of rabbits wild on the island but illegal to shoot them, sadly.

  • Haven’t won the lottery: not that I have not tried 🙂 ! Can’t get wild bunny! [So agree with Kate about our gun laws . . . methinks farmers and certainly gun club members can get licences and ‘private’ revenge shootings do occur, but nowhere near the level of the US – glory hallelujah!!]. Used to belong to a club owing to the interests of one husband dear and shoot a small .22 pretty accurately at targets not furry friends. Love my farmed bunny tho’ and have never made it with olives . . . a taste sensation in store at the earliest . . . thanks!

  • I haven’t had rabbit in a long time; my grand mother used to do it a lot, á la moutarde or with Madeiran( a classic). I have heard of rabbit with olives before, I can see how it can work… Nice one!

  • Rabbit is definitely one of my favorite alternative meats. I love this recipe idea and presentation!

  • Wonderful – as usual (recipe and stories) – the game keeper used to come and shoot the rabbits on our campsite. He taught me how to skin them – I am fine with that but just have to keep saying “it’s not a kitten, it’s not a kitten.” Probably should learn to shoot them myself, but as I can’t throw a ball straight I reckon should leave it to the experts. Plus my husband is American and I am not sure they are ready for an American with a gun round here – and if he gets one then he’ll want a porch and a rocking chair.

    • Buy him the rocking chair. In western tradition, he can build a rickety stoop himself. You can avoid the gun if you get him a corn-cob pipe. You may end up in despair but, he will be happy and the population will be a little safer.
      Happy Easter,

  • Oh dear, Conor. Easter Sunday, quick check on mail etc. Felt very happy until…….yes! You brought childhood memories back. Grandpa kept beautiful fluffy rabbits, we gave them names, I played with them. I was also one of the most beautifully dressed little girls in my different furry bunny coats, muffs and little cap 🙂 :), until I caught Grandpa skinning one of my favourite rabbit. That was the end of it…….no more r. meat for the rest of my life, but…..I just read your recipe three times. Very intrigued by the use of Olives, would love to try this one, but (see beginning of story..:)). Wishing you a very HAPPY EASTER.

    • Carina, that is a dreadful story. Though, I suspect I would like your Grandpa. The olives were lovely. Could I suggest trying it with chicken instead?
      Happy Easter to you too,

  • MD saw your delicious dish and thought it Spanish in origin. That never crossed my mind because I saw Sicily in the dish. And the world keeps getting smaller.

    • A good thing in many ways. I’m travelling to New Jersey today where I will be dining with a Sicilian. Small world indeed.

  • This must have been very tasty, Conor. Your friend knows his stuff, as rabbit and olives go together very well indeed. Like your explanation of ‘deglazing’ using liquid that is released by the mushrooms. I’ve used it often, but hadn’t thought to mention it.

  • I completely missed our bunny crossover. I was up to my (bunny) ears in deadlines and dust. But I’m back now, and switching myself furiously over my tardiness. In fact, I’m so off kilter I have 2 actual real true honest to God food questions for you. 1) What is your opinion of vegetable brushes vs the peeling of fresh mushrooms? And 2) are bunnies always cooked on the bone?

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