About this recipe:Sweet, tender rabbit meat is perfect in casseroles, and makes a great alternative to the usual chicken.
4 rabbit joints, about 750g in total
3 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, halved and sliced
2 large leeks, trimmed and diagonally sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
200ml dry cider
200ml vegetable or chicken stock
3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunky batons
1/2 head celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
sprig of fresh thyme (optional)
4 tbsp crème fraîche
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley to garnish
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Method Prep:30min › Cook:1hr30min › Ready in:2hr
Preheat the oven to 170°C (gas 3). Season 2 tbsp of the flour with salt and pepper, then toss the rabbit joints in the flour to coat lightly, shaking off any excess.
Heat the oil and butter in a large flameproof casserole over a high heat and brown the rabbit joints on all sides. Remove with a draining spoon and set aside.
Reduce the heat to low, then add the onion and leeks to the casserole. Gently cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until beginning to soften. Add the garlic, then sprinkle over the remaining 1 tbsp of flour. Cook for a further minute, stirring all the time.
Gradually stir in the cider, followed by the stock and mustard. Return the rabbit to the casserole with the carrots, celeriac, bay leaf and thyme, if using. Slowly bring to the boil. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 1 1/4–1 1/2 hours or until the rabbit is very tender and the vegetables are cooked. Remove the bay leaf and thyme.
Transfer the rabbit and vegetables to a heated serving dish to keep warm. Stir the crème fraîche into the cooking juices in the casserole and heat through on the hob. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour the sauce over the rabbit and vegetables and sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
*Choose a dry or medium fruity cider; most supermarkets sell it in small cans and bottles. Dry white wine makes a good alternative if you have some to hand. *Chicken leg joints may be used instead of rabbit for this dish and three chopped celery sticks as an alternative to celeriac. *Cook some extra vegetables in the oven at the same time as the casserole; braised finely shredded red or green cabbage flavoured with crushed juniper berries would be a good accompaniment.