The inspiration for this dish comes from a head chef I used to work for in Brisbane. We are still good friends and hope to work together again one day. I wanted to utilise the great rabbits available in northern NSW, as well as bacon that I get from my local butcher, who does amazing smoked pork bellies.
- 15 slices smoked streaky (belly) bacon, 1.5 mm thick
- 1 rabbit (approx. 1.5 kg), deboned in one piece, back legs deboned, separated into individual muscles
- 2 garlic cloves, lightly roasted
- 1 bunch thyme
- salt and pepper
- rabbit bones (leftover from deboning)
- 2 litres veal stock
- ½ bunch thyme
- 1 celeriac, peeled, diced into 1 cm cubes
- 40 g butter
- 500 g baby spinach
- 1litre cream, reduced to 300 ml
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drink Dal Zotto Sangiovese 2009, King Valley, Vic
"Although there are some quite strong flavours in this dish, they are cooked very sensitively so that the end result is a mixture of characterful highlights that build around the core ingredient – the beautiful Burrawong farm rabbit. With the veal sauce, gamy rabbit and smoky bacon, we need a red wine that won’t overpower these flavours, but will support them and offer some acid to cope with the richness and some tannin to match the protein content. It would be important not to reach for a big, oaky red in this situation as this would crowd out the rabbit. I’d lean towards something medium-bodied, with a light but upright tannin and acid structure; something like Barbera or Sangiovese. Italian varieties planted in Australia have a wonderful food-friendliness to them, so you can experiment in this area to your heart’s content." - Dan Coward
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
On a large bench, roll out three pieces of heavy duty cling wrap about 70 cm long. In the middle of the cling wrap, lay out the slices of bacon with all pieces overlapping about ½ cm.
Lay the deboned rabbit out flat, and place the leg meat evenly around the loins. Rub one clove of roasted garlic around the meat, sprinkle with half a teaspoon of thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Roll the rabbit into a log shape and place in the middle of the bacon slices. Use the cling wrap to help fold the bacon around the rabbit. Roll into a log and tie the cling wrap tightly at each end.
Place into a pot of lightly simmering water for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes remove and place into ice water to cool.
To make the sauce, roast the rabbit bones at 180°C with a dash of olive oil for about 10–15 minutes. Remove and place in a large pot with the veal stock and thyme. Boil and reduce until it is a sauce consistency. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside.
To roast the celeriac, preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat the butter and about 20 ml of oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the celeriac, and then place in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender.
For the creamed spinach, blanch the spinach in rapidly boiling salted water for about 10 seconds. Remove and refresh in ice water. Take the spinach out and squeeze out all the excess water. Blend with the remaining clove of roasted garlic and slowly pour in the reduced cream until smooth and well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Take the rabbit out of the iced water and portion into 6 even rounds (don’t forget to remove all the plastic).
Heat 10 ml of oil in another heavy-based small pan. Place the rabbit in the pan and sear on one side. Turn over and place in the oven for 5–10 minutes, or until the rabbit is just cooked through.
To serve, place a good spoonful of creamed spinach onto the plate. On top of that add 6–8 pieces of celeriac, then the seared rabbit. Coat with a good spoonful of sauce.