Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Easter Bunny... Barbecue style

Easter was for us this year a rather timid affair; both of us working at various points throughout yet we still managed to get the allotment dug over and planted up with potatoes (Duke of York), onions, shallots, garlic, broad beans and rocket; borage, lovage and oregano went into my herb pots and seed trays now adorn the kitchen windowsill filled with the potential of tomatoes of every hue and size.

Thus the dinner menus were also a tad subdued. Usually I go overboard with great legs of lamb and new spring greens but lamb is tricky to track down and I didn't have that much time. Easter Sunday turned out to be a roast chicken, but with goose fat-roasted potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and the last few tiny baby leaves of kale from the allotment sauteed with garlic and a sauce made from pan-deglazing, white wine, crème fraiche, tarragon and halved green grapes.

But it was Saturday's quick meal that was really the highlight of the weekend. My freezer is chock-full of meat, mainly due to my inability to just say 'no' at the amazing cuts of beef at the farmers' market. However at the back was a whole jointed wild rabbit - of course - the Easter bunny, just waiting to be lovingly consumed at this appropriate junction. However, I didn't want to do the KFB recipe and I started thinking about the Deep South and barbecue.

Now, I know rabbit, with its tendency to dryness and its physical layout ain't that similar to pork ribs but I had a yearning for smoky barbecue sauce, coleslaw, cornbread and so on. SO:
Either the day before or in the morning, concoct a rub for the rabbit, mixing together a good slug of 3 of olive oil (helps keep the rabbit moist) with a tablespoon of paprika, ground ginger, cumin, a little (or a lot of) chilli powder, salt and pepper and a touch of mace or nutmeg if you haven't any. Leave the rabbit to marinate.

For the barbecue glaze, mix together English mustard, ketchup, cider vinegar, sugar, starting with a tablespoon of each and double the amount of ketchup and then tasting as you go. I added a dollop of barbecue sauce and a little of the smoky chipotle Tabasco I seem to have hanging around. You want it to be sweet, smoky, punchy with mustard and ultimately finger-licking.

Heat the oven to 180C and tip your now rather angrily-red bunny into a roasting tin, paint with half the glaze and whack in the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove from the oven, paint with the rest of the glaze (cover the tin with foil if you think it's burning a little with the sugar) and put back in for another 10 minutes. At this point the rabbit is cooked, but you may want to give it 5 minutes with the foil off to enhance the stickiness.

We had this with own-made cornbread (recipe to be posted), coleslaw and a garlicky, lemony baby spinach and tomato salad.

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