Lidgate’s has been a family-owned London mainstay for 160 years, so trust third-generation restaurateur Danny Lidgate to showcase the very best meat Holland Park has to offer. His new recipe collection is a juicy tribute to the cuisine that made his family famous. Grab a knife and dig in!
Rabbit has always been popular in France and Italy, but only recently has it been starting to reappear on British tables. We tend to sell the more tender farmed rabbit for roasting in dishes such as this. Wild rabbit can be tougher and benefits from longer stewing, but it’s also a meat that’s worth rediscovering. Rabbit offal is famously delicious, so get this with the rabbit if possible in order to use it in the sauce.
- 1 farmed rabbit, jointed into 2 pieces of saddle and 4 legs (ask your butcher in advance)
- 6 small sprigs of tarragon
- 3 1/2 ounce thin-cut smoked pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
- 2 banana shallots, cut in half lengthways
- 2 celery sticks, each cut into 3 long pieces
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
- Knob of butter
- 1 teaspoon plain flour
- 7 ounces hot chicken stock
- Rabbit offal (optional but good)
- 1/4 pint full-fat crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
For the rabbit
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.
Season the rabbit joints with a little salt and a fair amount of pepper. Lay a sprig of tarragon on top of each piece. Wrap a slice of the pancetta around each piece of saddle and lay slices over the legs so that they fit snugly, tucking the ends underneath.
Put the shallots and celery in a roasting tray and place the rabbit on top. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the pancetta is crisp and the rabbit is cooked through but still juicy. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and a couple of tea towels, and leave in a warm place.
To make the sauce, put the roasting tray on the hob over a medium-low heat. Melt the butter in it, then sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually add the hot stock, stirring hard as you do so to mix it with the flour and scraping up any tasty bits in the bottom of the pan. If using rabbit offal, add it now as it will give extra flavor to the stock. Stir in the crème fraîche and mustard and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes. Bring to the boil and bubble away to thicken slightly. Strain the liquid into a jug and stir in the chopped tarragon.
Put the rabbit pieces on warm plates, one leg on each plate, and add the saddle pieces to the forelegs, which are less meaty than the hind legs (or give them to the people with the biggest appetites). Pour some sauce onto each plate and serve with potatoes and a crisp green salad or green beans.