Rabbit, pancetta and verjuice

Rabbit, pancetta and verjuice

A Year In My Kitchen

I have cooked a lot of rabbit over the past year. I really enjoy its flavour and it proves to be very popular on the restaurant menu. I prefer the taste and texture of farmed, free-range rabbit to that of wild rabbit, which tends to be stronger in flavour, tougher and sometimes riddled with shot. Longer, slower cooking works better for me with rabbit – I like it when the meat is so soft that it falls from the bone. If you prefer firmer flesh, simply reduce the cooking time by half.


Quantity Ingredient
1.5kg farmed free-range rabbit, jointed, (or ask your butcher for 4 back legs)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices pancetta, (or smoked, streaked bacon)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely sliced
120ml verjuice, (or dry white wine)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
300ml see method for ingredients
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Season the rabbit generously with salt and pepper. Place a flameproof casserole (large enough to accommodate all the ingredients) over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When it is hot and just smoking, add the rabbit pieces and brown them really well over. As they brown, remove the pieces and set aside.
  2. Add the pancetta and onion to the casserole, turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes or until the pancetta is browned and the onion has started to soften.
  3. Return the rabbit pieces to the pan, pour over the verjuice and add the mustard. Turn up the heat a little, so the liquor bubbles, then add the bay leaves, thyme and garlic, and pour on the stock. Cover the casserole tightly with foil, place in the oven and cook for 1 hour, 20 minutes. The rabbit should be very, very tender by this stage.
  4. Carefully remove the rabbit pieces and set aside. Place the casserole over a high heat and let the liquor bubble to reduce slightly. You want to thicken it a little and intensify the flavour. This should take no longer than 5 minutes.
  5. Add the crème fraîche and stir to combine with the juices. Return the rabbit pieces to the pan and warm through for a minute or so. Check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley.


  • Verjuice is a sour juice extracted from unripe grapes. It lends a special flavour and is available from selected supermarkets and specialist food shops, but if you are unable to find it, use a dry white wine instead.
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