Saturday, 27 December 2014

I did squid

We had the best squid of our lives at a tapas place in Barcelona this year. Having been presented with three squid caps by the Carlsbergs (together with a lobster) back in November, I tried following Raymond Blanc's Golden Rule of Squid: one minute, or one hour.

I portioned and scored the squid, then marinated it in olive oil, garlic, chilli and lemon juice for twenty minutes. I got a frying pan very hot and I gave the squid thirty seconds on each side. I served it with fries and ailoli.


Next we'll see how the frozen squid turns out.

Cooking Peter

Looking for a good old-fashioned Lancashire duck for Christmas dinner, I ran across the website of Johnson & Swarbrick of Goosnargh. A couple of emails later, I was scanning happily through their price list and, having chosen my duck, saw that they also supply wild rabbits.

On those rare occasions when I see rabbit on a menu, I'll order it. I think there's some nostalgia there - my Dad's upbringing having been heavily influenced by WWII and the rationing that continued afterwards, when rabbits were something you could rear or hunt for food - but I really like the flavour. So I ordered a couple along with the duck, one for Boxing Day and the second for the freezer, maybe to find its way into a stifado in the summer.

I'd never jointed a rabbit before, but found a decent guide here - and I was glad of a cleaver. The carcass included the liver, kidneys and heart, but I left them out of the pot this time; a lovely stew we had in Corfu incorporated them all, but for this first attempt I decided to play it safe. The carcass also included a membrane all over, which I read you can eliminate by putting the rabbit in the freezer for twenty minutes before skinning it - but mine arrived ready-skinned (no complaints). I tried removing the membrane in the same way you'd skin a fish, but that started to damage the meat, so in the end I just left it on, pulling off any residual fur. After slow cooking, you'd never notice it was there.

Serves 2
A wild rabbit, cut into six joints (four legs and the saddle halved)
A large onion, chopped.
Two medium carrots, cut in large dice
Two sticks of celery, thickly sliced
Two small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A good handful of diced pancetta
A third of a bottle of red wine
Half a litre of hot chicken stock
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
Two tablespoons of plain flour
A teaspoon of mustard powder
Two good sprigs of thyme
A bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 150 degrees (fan).

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Mix a tablespoon of flour and the mustard powder in a freezer bag, with a good pinch of salt and some pepper. Toss the rabbit joints in it, then fry till golden and remove.

Fry the bacon till it starts to crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Fry the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and thyme sprigs for three or four minutes, then remove them too. Turn the heat right up and add the red wine to deglaze the pan, simmering till the alcohol has mostly evaporated. Sieve in the second teaspoon of flour, plus any remaining from the bag and whisk

Tip the vegetables, herbs and bacon into an oven-proof pot with a lid, lay the rabbit legs on top (leave the saddle out for now) and pour over the red wine. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a bay leaf and enough of the chicken stock to almost cover the rabbit. Cover and cook for three quarters of an hour. Turn the rabbit legs, add the saddle and cook for another hour. Turn the saddle pieces, topping up with chicken stock if needed, and return to the oven for twenty minutes.

Serve with crusty bread and some green beans.