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