RABBIT STEW WITH CELERIAC PUREE
Seasonal Spanish Food
by Jose Pizarro
Like most country folk in Spain, we keep rabbits for eating: there's a large run next to the farmyard and this gives us a steady supply of meat throughout the year. My brother also shoots wild rabbits during the hunting season. Wild rabbit has a gamey flavor and takes longer to cook; the cooking time given in this recipe is for a domestically reared rabbit. When it comes to jointing the rabbit, it's easier to get your butcher to do it for you. Make sure you ask them to leave the front legs whole and the back legs jointed at the knee.
· 1 bottle red wine
· 2 rosemary sprigs
· 2 thyme sprigs
· 1 head of garlic, halved
· 1 bay leaf
· 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
· 1 rabbit, jointed into 10 pieces
· 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 2 carrots, sliced
· 1 onion, diced
· 4 celery ribs, sliced
· 2 oz dried ceps, soaked in 1 quart hot water
· 3 oz golden raisins (sultanas)
· salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 2 celeriac roots, cleaned (approx. 1¾ lb)
· 1 quart milk
· 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, chopped
· 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Put all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the rabbit, cover, and let marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
When you are ready to cook the stew, remove the meat from the marinade and pat the pieces dry. Reserve the marinade, including the herbs and garlic.
To make the stew, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based casserole or pan. Brown the rabbit pieces and set to one side. Remove the garlic from the marinade and cook in the pan until golden brown, then discard it; you just want garlic-flavored oil.
Cook the carrots, onion, and celery for 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened and golden. Return the rabbit to the pan and add the marinade. Let it bubble for about 8 minutes to reduce a little and to make sure that the alcohol has evaporated. Now add the ceps, along with the liquid in which the mushrooms have been soaking.
Cover the stew and leave to simmer very slowly for an hour, until the rabbit is practically falling off the bone with tenderness. Add the raisins to the stew 15 minutes before the end of cooking. Adjust the seasoning.
Meanwhile, make the celeriac puree. Peel and cut the roots into 3/4 in. pieces. Season the milk with salt and pepper and simmer the celeriac in the milk in a non-stick saucepan. Stir the contents regularly, as you don't want the milk to burn on the base of the pan. Keep cooking until you can poke a knife very easily through the celeriac flesh. This will take about 30 minutes.
Drain the celeriac and mash it with the olive oil. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Stir the chopped parsley through the stew and divide between four warmed plates. Place a mound of celeriac puree to one side and ladle over some of the juices. Scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top and serve.