I have just returned from a stay in the UK to be greeted by the same cool and wet weather that I thought I had left behind there. With all the rain the vegetable garden is bursting with produce – and plenty of weeds – but is too wet to get into right now, and of course it is Sunday, so no shopping possiblities. Thankfully there are some squashes, onions and potatoes in the cold store, rabbit in the freezer and a couple of now slightly wrinkly red peppers in the fridge from before I went away. I decide to prepare a favourite roast for lunch, Rabbit with Summer Vegetables, this dish having the extra benefit of needing the wood burning oven, which will nicely warm the kitchen.
Normally for this dish I buy a whole rabbit and chop it into small portions leaving the bones in, but on this occasion I only have a boned saddle available, so that will have to do. Chicken can be substituted for the rabbit if you prefer. The cooking times will be the same, but use tarragon or sage in place of the thyme.
For the vegetables I always use potatoes and garlic, but then the rest vary depending on what is available in the garden or larder. Red peppers are great for colour and flavour, so those if I can, then any three or four others from the list below.
ROAST RABBIT WITH SUMMER VEGETABLES – For 4
400 grams potatoes
2 heads of garlic
several sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
selection of vegetables –
2 large red peppers cut into quarters or sixths
2 medium courgettes cut into big chunks
2 medium aubergines cut into chunks
4-6 sweet onions peeled and halved
4 large carrots peeled and cut into chunks
butternut squash and or pumpkin peeled and cut into chunks
Put the oven on to warm up to 190 C.
Once the oven is up to temperature, put in a large roasting tray containing a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
After five minutes or so when this is hot add to it the potatoes which are in evenly sized chunks. Sprinkle with salt and roast for ten minutes.
Season the rabbit with salt, freshly ground black pepper and fresh thyme. Break the garlic into cloves but don’t peel them. Cut the cloves accross their fattest bit only cutting half way through the clove. Leaving the skin on protects the garlic from burning while it is roasting, while the cut accross the middle enables the garlic to swell without bursting out of its skin.
Add the rabbit and garlic to the potatoes and cook for another ten minutes.
After this time add the rest of the vegetables to the pan. They need to be in one layer to cook properly, so if they don’t fit in one tray use two, dividing the meat, garlic and potatoes between the two. If the vegetables are too crowded they tend to steam rather than roast and end up soggy. Drizzle over more olive oil and seasoning.
Roast for another half an hour or until the vegetables are tender and browned at the edges.
If you are wondering why I have included the photo at the top of this post, look carefully at the wire and you will see a flock of starlings neatly and evenly sitting all the way along it. It is almost as though they have measured the distance between each other.