Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I wanted to use hare; the chocolaty, rich hare ragu with papparadelle I'd eaten at Polpetto earlier this month was so good it slotted in right at the top of my Must Replicate list. This one was smooth, thick, and got the saliva hopping and jumping on the taste buds. Not one hair, bone or tooth in sight. Got to have it again...

Not that simple. As it turns out you have to be quite an efficient little bunny to get your hands on a hare, or indeed its meat. 'A few days to get it in' said the butcher. And the next, and the next.

Waiting a few days wasn't too much of a problem - 3 days would allow me to come up with the perfect recipe - but I had to feed people that night. If the result were anything like Polpetto's I'd want to share it with friends and a good deep, musty red wine. 3 days later it'd be just me and a lot of meat to freeze.

The butchers did, however, have wild rabbit - not as juicy or rich but a good enough compromise to play with. This recipe is not really a ragu - that'll have to wait for the hare - but it's great recipe for converting rabbit haters (or are they lovers?).

It's wild rabbit for a start - not a domestic pet pinched from some old lady's garden - and it's mixed with enough spice and wine to convince friends to replicate it.

Until they get back home to darling Fluffy.


serves 4-6

6 streaks pancetta, chopped

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

3 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 rabbits/ approx. 600g meat, boned and roughly chopped

1 1/2 glasses red wine

small bunch thyme

200ml chicken stock

200g tinned plum tomatoes

2 portobello mushrooms, sliced

1tsp medlar or redcurrant jelly

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 hot red chilli, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

generous pinch salt

1 litre water

200g instant polenta

100g Parmesan, grated

bunch flat leaf parsley to serve, chopped (optional)

Fry the pancetta in a little olive oil until crisp. Add the onion and soften. Then add the carrots. Fry for another minute or so.

Now add the rabbit and fry on a medium heat until browned on the edges. (If you are cooking with more, you may want to do this in batches)

Turn up the heat and pour in the red wine. Bring to the boil, and reduce the liquid until the alcohol has burnt off. Add the stock, tomatoes, mushrooms, jelly, spices and herbs and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Test for seasoning and keep warm while you make the polenta.

Bring the litre of water to the boil. When bubbling, pour in the polenta and immediately stir with a whisk. When it begins to thicken add a touch of salt and all of the Parmesan. Serve when thick and creamy, top with a spoonful of the rabbit and a garnish of parsley.

Monday, November 14, 2011


This week, I joined the fight to bring cabbage - spiky, rubbery, bobbled, leafy, white, red, beautiful cabbage - back onto the table. Brassica backlash.

My recipe for cabbage pickle deserves very little thought but it is full of wahummph. It takes all of 20 minutes to prepare and can sit pretty in jars for up to a month. Go nuts with your burger, side it to a hot pork pie or go full force with a fork straight into the jar.


Serves 8-10


1 white cabbage (approx. 700g) shredded

1 tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp fennel seeds

thumb-sized knob ginger, grated or crushed

pinch nutmeg

100ml cider vinegar

200g caster sugar

bunch of tarragon

1 green apple, thinly sliced

1 large jar with lid, sterilised

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the cabbage. Summer for 2-3 minutes so the cabbage is lightly blanched. You still want there to be a slight crunch and the colour to remain. Drain and dry off in a tea towel.

Heat the oil in a small pan and fry the shallots until soft. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat up the cider vinegar with the sugar do that the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a few minutes to reduce the pickle syrup. The result should look clear and have a sweet and sharp flavour. Mix the cider vinegar with the shallots and let cool.

Chop the tarragon.

Transfer half of the cabbage into the sterilised glass jar and add a layer of sliced apple, tarragon, and half the pickle syrup. Repeat Give the jar a turn - making sure it is sealed fast - so that the cabbage is doused in syrup and the shallots, ginger, apple and tarragon are spread evenly.

You can eat the pickle straight away or leave it for up to 1 month in the glass jar.

Try the pickle with other varieties of cabbage and experiment with vinegars and spice such as red cabbage with red wine vinegar, juniper berries and cloves.

Catch my recipe on Great British Food Revival as Jason Atherton showcases the best of British cabbage: j.mp/utg2aL

Friday, November 4, 2011


The Queen of Fish Pies

Scallop, prawn, haddock and tarragon pie w/ peas and braised baby fennel

Serves 4 very good friends


1 white onion, finely chopped
600ml double cream
1 bunch tarragon, roughly chopped
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
good squeeze of 1/2 lemon
200g roeless scallops (though do not trim if the roes are still attached - they are delicious)
200g raw king prawn tails
2 haddock fillets, roughly chopped
400g King Edward potatoes, peeled and quartered
dash milk
3 small knobs butter
salt and pepper
50g Parmesan, grated
4 bulbs baby fennel, chopped
200g peas
dash white wine
dash stock

Set the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6

Add the potatoes to a large pan filled with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook the potatoes until fluffy and soft and so you can slide a knife through them easily. Drain the water and mash, until smooth, adding the milk, one knob of butter and salt and pepper to taste. This is a rich fish pie so don't go overboard on the salt.

Meanwhile, fry the onion in the second knob of butter until really soft and stringy. Pour in the cream and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to a low simmer and add the tarragon and mustard. Stir through the fish and set aside. The prawns may start to turn pink, but they will continue to cook in the oven.

Pour the fish mix into a large earthenware dish and layer the potato on top. Do not over-fill the dish as it is likely to bubble over in the oven. Scatter the grated Parmesan over the potato and place in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and the sauce is bubbling.

While the pie is in the oven and in its last 5 minutes, melt the last knob of butter in a small pan. Add the chopped fennel and soften. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil so the alcohol burns off. Add the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. At the last minute, or just before you take the pie out of the oven, add the peas and serve.