Mustard, cream, rosemary and sage work perfectly with delicious rabbit loins on a bed of braised puy lentils
- For the rabbit
- 4 rabbit loins with silver skin removed (ask your butcher to do this)
- 5 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 1 tsp freshly crushed black peppercorns
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 16 thinly sliced pancetta rashers
- 30g butter
- For the lentils
- 350g puy lentils
- Extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
- 50g butter
- 150g each shallots, carrots and celery, finely diced
- ¼ tsp fennel seeds
- 3 bay leaves
- 200ml dry white wine
- For the sauce
- 300ml veal reduction (available from specialist delis) or 600ml fresh dark chicken stock reduced to 300ml (we like Heston from Waitrose)
- 110ml double cream
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
- 3 tbsp grainy mustard
- For the curly kale
- 300kg curly kale, washed and torn into small pieces
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely sliced
- A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1. Put the rabbit in a dish, scatter over the rosemary, pepper, lemon zest and olive oil and marinate for 4 hours or more, covered, in the fridge. Remove the loins from the bowl and wrap each with 4 pancetta rashers, so only the very ends of the meat poke out. Chill.
- 2. Bring a large pan of unsalted water to the boil, add the lentils and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stand for 2 minutes, then drain. Drizzle over extra-virgin olive oil to coat, then set aside.
- 3. Meanwhile, heat the 50g butter in a large heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the shallots, carrots and celery until very soft. Add the fennel seeds and bay leaves. Increase the heat, add the lentils and wine and cook for 5 minutes to evaporate the liquid. Keep warm. (Or you could tip them out onto a tray and cool before chilling. They will keep in ?the fridge for a couple of days.)
- 4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Preheat a non-stick frying pan and melt the 30g butter with a splash of oil. Fry the rabbit loins until the pancetta is crisp, then bake the rabbit loins on a baking sheet for 7 minutes until cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes.
- 5. For the sauce, bring the veal reduction (or chicken stock) to the boil in a small pan. Stir in the cream, thyme and mustard, then season. Keep warm and lay cling film on the surface to prevent a skin forming.
- 6. To prepare the kale, blanch it for about 30 seconds in a large pan of boiling water. Drain and refresh under cold water. In a large pan, heat the butter and garlic very gently until the butter begins to brown. Add the kale and cook vigorously for 3-4 minutes with a little oil.
- 7. Warm the lentils and spoon onto 4 warmed plates. Slice and arrange the rabbit loins on top, then pour over the mustard sauce. Put the sautéed kale in a serving bowl for everyone to share. Extra sauce is always good, served in a little jug.
PER SERVING (based on 6) 575kcals, 33.7g fat (12.5g saturated), 38g protein, 21.7g carbs (2.8g sugars), 1.4g salt, 7.9g fibre
Ask your butcher for 2 saddles of rabbit (order these in advance), then ask him to take off and trim the loins. By ordering the saddle, you won’t end up with the rest of the carcass to deal with.
A young Italian red made from sangiovese or dolcetto grapes has the right cherry hit here.