Rabbit stew may sound old-fashioned but it is a beautiful meat with a subtle flavour that sits perfectly in this pearl barley based braise.
Simple techniques and classic home cooking are at the heart of this recipe that requires no real skill and creates a hearty and delicious meal in around 90 minutes.
An Old Fashioned British Bunny Stew
I’m kicking off my slow transition to autumnal food with a delicious and simple stew recipe. Yes, I’m being all populist again with my fancy old-fashioned ingredients and traditional cooking methods.
This rabbit stew recipe, however, is a little closer to home and is very British indeed, it is the sort of thing that would make my gran smile a great deal!
Rabbit was one of the sources of protein that was not rationed during WWII in the UK and during the rationing period after. As a result, it became understandably a popular ingredient.
I genuinely love the stuff, it has a wonderfully subtle flavour that is nothing at all like chicken! So forget everything that you have ever read.
It is exceptionally lean and has a tendency to dry out when cooked quickly.
Consequently, this slow braised approach of the bony leg cut is the perfect foolproof introduction to cooking rabbit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is pearl barley?
Wait for it folks, pearl barley is… Wait for it… Barley! Ok, it is barley that has the inedible husk removed and then polished to remove the bran.
It is a pretty ancient ingredient often associated with ‘padding’ out frugal dishes. I personally love the flavour, it is kinda nutty and has the most wonderful chewy texture.
I use it in this rabbit stew in a similar way to the way I use it in my cockaleekie soup as well as in an orzotto, a north Italian sibling dish of risotto.
Can I prepare this in advance?
Yes, it will sit in the fridge for a couple of days after cooking in a sealed container. You could in theory freeze it, although I personally am not e of grains once they have been frozen and reheated.
To reheat place the stew in a large saucepan with a lid and gently reheat until the rabbit is piping hot.
Can I cook this in a slow cooker?
Yes, sear off the rabbit and bacon, making surer that you fry the tomato puree too. Then transfer everything to the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high.
Can I use dried rosemary?
Yes, just throw between half and one teaspoon into the stew.
Can I use the whole rabbit?
Yes, you could use a whole-jointed rabbit if you wish, however, the rabbit loin can dry out very quickly.
I would sear that off later in the cooking process and add it into the stew for the final 20-25 minutes.
This rabbit stew recipe really is a hearty one-pot meal and it really does not need a side dish.
That does not stop me from pairing it with a nice crunchy bread to mop up the sauce.
If I am making bread my personal favourite is a nice simple soda bread, it is tasty, quick to make and does not need proving.
I only mention specific brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 24cm or 10″ heavy based saucepan or Dutch oven with a lid.
- Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
- Chopping board.
- Kicthen knife.
- Kitchen tongs, stirring and serving spoons.
Rabbit stew is as old school as it gets this one is delightfully frugal, packed with flavour and features the much-underused pearl barley.
- 2 Rabbit Legs
- 75g (2 Total) Celery Stalk
- 150g (1 Cup) Onion
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 200g (1½ Cups) Leek
- 200g (1¼ Cups) Carrots
- 1 Tbsp Flour
- 1 Tsp Cooking Oil
- 25g (2 Tbsp) Butter
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
- 100g (1½ oz) Bacon Lardons
- 750ml (3 Cups) Chicken Stock
- 100g (½ Cup) Pearl Barley
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
- ½ Tsp Salt
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- Cut the onion in half, peel it and then cut it into a 5-6mm or (¼") dice.
- Chop the celery into a 5-6mm dice (¼").
- Peel and slice the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
- Clean the leek thoroughly and then cut it into 12-15mm (½") thick coins.
- Cut the carrots into 25mm (1") chunks. Peel them before if they are a bit "tatty".
- Season the rabbit legs with salt and then dredge with the flour.
- Heat a 24cm or 10" saucepan over a medium heat and when hot add the oil and butter.
- Fry the rabbit legs until golden on all sides, remove and set aside.
- Add the bacon and cook until golden.
- Add the celery and onion to the bacon and fry for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Throw in the tomato puree and cook out for 1-2 minutes stirring regularly
- Add the sliced garlic, leeks and carrots to the pan and stir to coat in the oils and tomato puree.
- Pour in barley followed by the stock
- Drop in the rosemary followed by the rabbit legs, cover with a lid and reduce to a gentle simmer for 75 minutes.
- You can either remove the rabbit legs and shred them, returning the meat to the stew or serve the legs while on a base of the stew.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 851Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 2186mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 8gSugar: 17gProtein: 57g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.