10 October 2012

GUEST BLOG: Sustainable sustenance

By guest blogger TRACEY

It wasn't really my cup of tea watching our guest Cracking Cook, Robert Owen Brown from The Mark Addy, skin a rabbit on Saturday 6 October, but I'm glad I attended the session as not only did he inform us about how, if you eat meat, rabbit is now one of the healthiest, leanest and most sustainable meats you can eat, he also he taught the participants how to make some deliciously tasty dishes.

We were treated to rabbit in a wild mushroom and tarragon sauce. Firstly the rabbit legs were browned using olive oil, then the garlic and shallots were added. Once the shallots had softened,  the pre-prepared stock, wine and wonderfully woody fragrant mushrooms (which had been left to soak for hours) were added, which enhanced the depth of flavour to the dish, and I'm pleased to say no shallots were burnt! The ingredients were left to simmer for an hour, repeatedly checking the pan wasn’t sticking and filling the room with a wonderful aroma each time the lid was lifted. The lid was lifted a final time to add the double cream and tarragon, then it was left to reduce by half. 

Once cooked the presentation of the dish varied throughout the room - but the taste was equal for all - delicious. The participants didn’t focus on one dish alone, multi-tasking was afoot - so while the aforementioned dish simmered, Robert had the group rustle up a wee treat of kidney and liver served up with a sliced rustic fried loaf - I'm inclined to agree with Robert that once the herbs and seasoning were added to the flambéed kidneys and livers, they were indeed 'pretty sweet explosions'. 

Howerver, it was the roast saddle of rabbit with shallots and Parma ham that was definitely my winning dish! The ham was cooked and put to one side, while the rabbit and shallots sautéed in the ham's juices. The rabbit stock, bacon, parsley and butter were added to the pan and left simmering, while the plate was prepped for serving using wilted spinach leaves, ham and fondant potato (above). The roasted saddle was then rested on the veg and gravy poured over the dish. The presentation was splendid, but the taste was soooo much better! 

Robert totally deserved the round of applause at the end, the group were well fed, splendidly mentored and amusingly entertained! Everyone went away having learnt a lot about the importance of selecting sustainable meats and the provenance of the food we choose to eat. Natalie pointed out that she felt it was really "good to be this close to my food source: very very rare", so many thanks, Robert!

There are more photographs from the session on our Facebook page.

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