This second rapid installment for ‘The new black’ grew from a current archive project at North Yorkshire County Council records office. Norton Conyers, near Ripon kindly donated their family documents, including a handwritten manuscript of household management and recipes dated around 1669.
The original receipt contains an elaborate dish of rabbit, veal, oysters and sweetbreads layered with pieces of bread and slow cooked in white wine and light ale. When invited to join Rachel Greenwood in presenting said recipe at York Food Festival, I decided to deconstruct it’s more accessible components and present these in a more manageable format. I have also included the instructions for frying the oysters and sweetbreads as we did at the demonstration.
Serves 4 -6 with sides
450g – 500g diced rabbit off the bone.
4 – 5 shallots or 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4 – 5 preserved anchovies
Splash of dry white wine
Small glass of brown beer
One tablespoon Marigold vegetable bouillon powder
Small bunch of fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
Salt and pepper
One loaf of day old bread, preferably sourdough
Place a spoonful of fat in a large saucepan. Don’t automatically dismiss the use of lard; it is around 20% lower in saturated fat and in my opinion lends a lighter note when frying. Brown the rabbit in small batches and set aside.
In the same pan sweat your sliced onion until translucent before adding the anchovies, nutmeg and bouillon. Return the rabbit and top with 200ml of water, the white wine and glass of brown beer. Tuck in your selection of herbs, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
Simmer gently for around 30 – 40 minutes until the rabbit is cooked through. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
The final dish results in tender rabbit and a light, flavourful broth that matches wonderfully with wet polenta and a bitter green salad. To serve in a traditional way place a slice of your slightly stale sourdough in each soup bowl and top with a generous spoonful of the meat and sauce. Provide a large green salad for guests to help themselves.
Garnish of oysters and sweetbreads
Two oysters/sweetbreads per person
Pinch of mace or nutmeg
Buy your oysters and sweetbreads on the day required so that they are as fresh as possible. Sweetbreads usually need to be ordered ahead of time but many local butchers can get you them with a little notice.
Beat two eggs with 300ml of milk. Add enough spelt flour to make a thick batter and season with the nutmeg.
Place a spoonful of lard in a frying pan and heat until red hot. Dip the oysters/sweetbreads into the batter and drop into your frying pan a few at a time. It will only takes 30 seconds or so until for them to cook through and reach golden brown on the outside.
Serve alongside the rabbit and green salad.