Phil Howard’s Rabbit With Spring Vegetables, Pea Shoots And Tarragon

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This refreshingly delightful rabbit recipe from Phil Howard is full of the joys of spring – but with a few tweaks could be served all year round.

Ingredients
For the rabbit:
8 rabbit legs, aitch bone removed
100ml of grapeseed oil
4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

For the spring vegetables:
16 asparagus spears
8 baby leeks
16 baby carrots
8 baby turnips
150g of morels
200g of peas
200g of broad beans
16 Jersey Royal potatoes
4 sprigs of mint
1 tbsp of grapeseed oil
4 spring onions, finely sliced
4 radishes
400g of pea shoots

For the tarragon cream:
2 large eggs
2 tsp white wine vinegar
200ml of grapeseed oil
35g of tarragon, leaves picked

To serve:
1 tsp sherry vinegar

Method
For the rabbit, place a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan on the stove over a medium heat. When it is hot, season the rabbit legs generously with salt and pepper, add the oil to the pan and then the legs. Cook until lightly golden.
Transfer to an oven preheated to 150°C/Gas Mark 2 and roast for 7–8 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the garlic, swirl it around in the pan and leave to rest for half an hour.
Drain all the juices into a small container and set the rabbit and juices aside at room temperature.
Place a large pan of water on to boil and season generously with salt – 7g per litre and at least 2 litres of water in total. Using a peeler with a very fine gauge, peel the asparagus from just below the tip to the base. Cut the bottom 2cm from the ends.
Trim any dark green tops from the leeks and remove the outer layer if tough or damaged. Again using a fine peeler, peel the carrots and turnips. Trim the base of the morel stalks and wash them in a large bowl of cold water. Dry in a salad spinner.
Add the asparagus to the pan of boiling water and cook for a minute or two, until it is just tender, keeping the pan over a high heat. Using tongs, lift a piece out after 1 minute, cut a small piece from the end and taste it: it must be cooked but al dente.
Lift the asparagus out and plunge it into iced water for 30 seconds. Remove, drain in a colander, cut into 2cm lengths and place on a tray lined with a kitchen cloth. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside at room temperature.
Similarly cook and refresh the leeks, carrots and turnips, cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Keep covered with a damp cloth at room temperature.
Blanch the peas until just cooked. Refresh in iced water and store in a bowl lined with kitchen paper. Blanch the broad beans for 2 minutes, refresh in iced water for 1 minute, then drain in a colander. Pop the beans out of their skins and reserve, covered, at room temperature.
10 Place the Jersey Royals in a pan of salted water, set over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn down and cook for about 15 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat, add the mint and leave to cool in the water.
11 Heat the grapeseed oil in a small frying pan, add the morels and a pinch of salt and sauté over a medium heat for 1 minute.
12 Trim and finely slice the spring onions, then cover and set aside. Slice the radishes as finely as possible, preferably using a mandoline, then cover and set aside. Pick the top 3cm off the pea shoots, wash briefly in cold water and then dry in a salad spinner. Set aside, covered with a damp cloth.
13 Cook the eggs in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Peel the eggs and place them in a blender with the white wine vinegar and several twists of the pepper mill.
14 Blend on medium speed until smooth, then gradually add the oil. You will have a thick, mayonnaise-like emulsion. Now add the tarragon leaves and blend again. When smooth, add about 25ml of the potato water – you need enough to thin it down to a creamy consistency. Check the seasoning; eggs and oil are bland and it will need careful seasoning to bring it to life. Transfer to a plastic squeezy bottle or a small bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge.
15 Drain the potatoes and cut in half. Carve the rabbit meat off the bone and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and add the roasting juices, the teaspoon of sherry vinegar and all the vegetables except the radishes and pea shoots. Toss gently to coat thoroughly. Taste a piece or two and season it if necessary.
16 Arrange a flat layer of salad across 8 plates. Gently drizzle some of the tarragon cream over the salad – to evenly coat, but do not drown the ingredients. Garnish with the sliced radishes and pea shoots and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Phil Howard. See here for more.

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