Braised food

Fergus Henderson’s Recipes for Braised Rabbit and Beet Salad | Food

JToday’s recipes are in a pleasant seasonal purgatory, but mostly speak of summer, even though they’re made with ingredients that don’t guilt when purchased during the colder months. This makes them ideal to have in your arsenal when the weather turns. They’re a celebration of deconstruction — not in the nouvelle cuisine sense, where perfectly sensible things are taken apart in a series of blobs, whooshes, and spins (such plates speak of food that’s been inhaled a bit too much). The intervention of knife and fork is unavoidable, so we should rejoice in the mess process; there’s a positivity to a method in which deconstruction is the final act of construction – swirling together heaps of capers, beets, creme fraiche and leaves, or plucking flesh from rabbit bones for leftover joy . These dishes benefit from input from St John’s Executive Chef, Jonathan Woolway, and both have the kind of understated elegance you’d expect at our newest venture, St John Marylebone, which opens later this month.

Braised rabbit, mustard and bacon

Leftovers can be removed from the bone and served the next day with tagliatelle and a dash of chopped tarragon.

Preparation 10 minutes
To cook 2h20
Serves 6or 4 rabbit lovers

1 tablespoon duck fat or lard
Sea salt and black pepper
2 wild rabbits
(about 600g each), both articulated in 2 shoulders, 2 legs and 2 saddle sections (breeding rabbits make a good substitute if you are short on a shotgun or trusted supplier)
1 kg of smoked baconcut into large pieces
18 shallotspeeled
12 garlic clovespeeled
3 bay leaves
1 bunch
sageleaves picked and coarsely chopped
500ml dry cider
chicken stock – you will need it to fill your baking dish
2 tablespoons healthy dijon mustard
4 tablespoons of healthy fresh cream

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Put the fat in a frying pan over medium heat, season the rabbit, then brown it over its entire surface, in several batches if necessary. Transfer the pan-fried rabbit to a baking dish deep enough and wide enough to accommodate everything later.

In the same pan, brown the bacon bits, then add the whole peeled shallots and the garlic, let them soften without browning, then add the bay leaves and sage to the pan. Nestle everything around the rabbit in the baking dish.

Place the baking dish on the hob, sizzling, then add the cider and reduce by half. Add enough broth just to cover the rabbit, being careful not to flood the nest.

Whisk mustard and crème fraîche in a small bowl. Using a little braising liquid, loosen the mustard mixture, then stir everything into the braise. Cover with foil and roast for about two hours, or until soft and tender.

Beetroot, red onion, red cabbage, fresh cream and chervil

Too often you are offered a fait accompli (the inevitable) on a plate, a weaving of ingredients in which your only involvement will be to mess things up with your knife and fork. Well, here’s a salad that welcomes the messy process.

Preparation 5 minutes
To assemble 5 minutes
Serves 6

For the salad
2 raw beetspeeled and finely grated
¼ raw cabbagecore cut out and discarded, remainder very thinly sliced
1 small red onionpeeled, halved top to bottom and thinly sliced
6 healthy spoonfuls of fresh cream
2 good bunches of chervilor 1 bunch of dill, leaves picked

For dressing
Healthy splashes of extra virgin olive oil
A touch of balsamic vinegar
1 small handful of extra-fine capers
Sea salt and black pepper

Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing everything together in a bowl. Mix the three red ingredients into the dressing, then place a bushel of this red mixture on each of the six plates.

Place a drop of fresh cream next to it, as if the two ingredients were good friends, and not on top of each other as if they were in love. Finally, friendly place a lump of chervil (or dill) next to the other ingredients and serve.

  • Fergus Henderson is chef/co-owner of St John and St John Bread & Wine in London. A third site, St John Marylebone, opens later this month.