After heading up popular restaurants such as Arbutus, celebrated chef Anthony Demetre opened Wild Honey St James last year. With a menu focusing on seasonal British produce elevated by French cooking techniques, the food is both delicious and elegant. He shares with us this week his recipe for Saddle of Rabbit with Shoulder and Leg Cottage Pie—the perfect dish for a special evening in.

Saddle of Rabbit with Shoulder and Leg Cottage Pie

Serves 4

Ingredients 

1 large tame rabbit (or 2 fat wild rabbits) including the liver and kidneys
6 tomatoes, blanched, skinned and chopped
2 large pieces pig’s caul
4 garlic cloves, peeled and split in half
1 sprig rosemary
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 tbsp tarragon, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
300ml white wine
100ml white wine vinegar
1¼ litres chicken stock
Olive oil
Butter
Potato purée

Method

Butcher the rabbit by removing the front and back legs, then remove the head and split in half. Remove the livers and kidneys and set aside. Remove the rib cage and back bone from the saddle without piercing the skin. The two loins of meat should remain intact (or ask your local butcher to prepare for you). Season with salt and pepper.  Put the offal down the centre between the loins of meat, roll the saddle encasing the offal, then wrap in pig’s caul and tie. Leave to chill in the fridge.

To make the cottage pie, take a thick-bottomed pan and heat a knob of butter and olive oil, then season and colour until golden all the remaining rabbit pieces including the head and backbone. Lift out and set aside. Now add another knob of butter and splash of olive oil and colour the vegetables and garlic. When coloured, put back the rabbit add the vinegar and reduce almost completely, then add the wine and reduce by two thirds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, bay leaf and rosemary, bring to the boil and skim, gently simmering for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Lift the rabbit out and set aside, then reduce the stock until sauce consistency. Strain the sauce, reserve the vegetables (these you will need for the pie). Pull the meat from the bones and combine with the vegetables and chopped herbs, and season to taste. Put this into a pie dish with a few tablespoons of sauce and a drizzle of olive oil. Top this with potato purée.

The remaining sauce will be for the finished dish. The cottage pie is now ready to bake at 170°C for 40 minutes before you intend to roast the saddle. Take the saddle(s) from the fridge 30 minutes before roasting (meat should never be roasted straight from the fridge as the exterior will become overcooked and tough). Season them with salt and pepper, colour lightly in a pan and roast in a pre-heated oven at 170°C for about 10-15 minutes. Leave to rest for 8 minutes carve and serve alongside the cottage pie.

Enjoy!