Thursday, 25 October 2012

Rabbit Rillettes Recipe


Ok, so strictly speaking this recipe has nothing to do with our allotment, but what the hey, it tastes amazing and is dead easy to make so I thought I'd write it up. If you don't want to know about something delicious to do with a rabbit, you need read no further!

So, rabbit; my experience of cooking it was limited to one previous attempt when I cooked it on the bone in a mustard sauce. This was nice enough, but proper fiddly eat as rabbit has a lot of little bones. This time out I was looking for a recipe that involved cooking the thing and then being able to pull all the meat off it before it comes to the eating. Ol' Hugh F-W had an article of rabbit recipes in The Guardian, and the rillettes sounded great. "Sod it, let's make that" I may, or may not, have thought. Let's just say I did. 

Where the hell do you get rabbit from anyway? Well, in my experience, the best way is to get to know someone called Mark, who goes out shooting various game, and mention how you'd really like some bunnies should he happen to get hold of them. The two rabbits that I ended up with came handily skinned and jointed. You may not know anyone called Mark, and if you do they may not be in the habit of shooting game. In this case there is at least one butcher in the Grainger Market in Newcastle that sells them for only a few quid each. If you don't live in Newcastle? Um, sorry you're on your own.

Rabbit has a great, mildly gamey flavour, but it can go a bit dry as it's so lean. That's where the fat from the pork belly helps out in this recipe, keeping the rillettes nice and moist. Rillettes is the French description for a rustic, rough pâté, where the meat has been pulled apart by fork. rather than blitzed, before being potted.



  • 1 Rabbit, jointed.
  • approx 500g pork belly, off the bone, cut into 2-3 cm cubes
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, unpeeled but gently bashed with the flat of a knife
  • 4 bay leaves
  • few sprigs of thyme
  • Maldon or other decent salt, fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large pinch of mixed spice


Pre-heat the oven to 220C/ Gas 7
Get hold of a sturdy baking dish or casserole, and arrange the rabbit and pork pieces in it. Ideally they should fit in more or less a single layer, but don't fret if there's a bit of overlap. Season the meat with salt and pepper then add the garlic cloves, thyme and bay leaves to the dish. Now add about 250ml of water to the dish, at which point things should look a bit like this:

allotment blog

Put a lid on the casserole, or if you're using a similar dish to me, cover with foil. Put it in the oven for 30 mins, then turn the heat down to 140C/ gas 1 and leave for a further two and a half hours, after which time things should look like this:


At this point it smells pretty damn amazing. Allow to cool, during which time you may want to eat all the bits of garlic out of the roasting tray. Discard the herbs, and strain off the cooking liquor, through a sieve, into a jug.

Once the meat is cool you want to pull all the rabbit meat off the bone - it should slide off easily enough - and put it into a big bowl with the pork. Now go at it with a pair of forks, pulling the meat into shreds, until it looks a bit like this:

rabbit rillettes recipe

Mix in the mixed spice, have a taste, then give it another seasoning with salt and pepper. Personally, I like things like this to be pretty well seasoned. Mix in enough of the cooking liquor back into the mix so that it becomes pate-like, rather than just shredded meat. If it starts making a pleasingly squelchy noise when mixing it around, you've cracked it.

Then all you've got to do is pack it into sterilised jars. This recipe made two decent sized jars full for me. You're supposed to leave it in the fridge for a couple of days for the flavour to develop before eating, which is harder than it sounds.


I've been eating this with the green tomato chutney I made a few weeks back, on home made (alright; out a bread-maker) bread. Really bloody good.



  1. I must be the most famous Game Shooter in the North East, the pigeon sausages were'nt half bad either!

  2. Sounds interesting. We don't have rabbit much though I have to admit that I do enjoy the flavour.

    1. I can really recommend this recipe; easy, hassle-free, satisfying to make and delicious.


All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

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