While it may seem safe to remove one of those winter layers and turn the thermostat down, we’re still wrapping our food up tightly in blankets here at Salad Club. Like our tasty summer rolls from last week, hundreds of little devils on horseback for the School of Life on Monday evening and now, continuing the Asian theme with some crispy aromatic rabbit in pancakes to celebrate the Chinese year of the rabbit.
The idea for this recipe evolved over a few weeks. I’d been planning to confit some rabbit for a while in an effort to use up the surplus goose fat that accumulates after Christmas and as a surefire way of keeping rabbit meat, too often served dry and flavourless, tender and rich. While this plan was brewing, a persistent craving for duck and pancakes got involved and stumbling across the new year celebrations in Chinatown inspired me to swap feathered game for furred in this classic Chinese recipe.
You need to plan ahead for this as it’s quite a labour of love but the results are amazingly succulent and warming–ideal for an impressive and cutlery free meal with friends.
Crispy Aromatic Rabbit in Pancakes (serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a starter)
2 farmed rabbits, jointed
1 large jar of goose fat
For the marinade:
Big handful of sea salt
4 star anise
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsps Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
6 spring onions
Thumb of root ginger, sliced
6 tbsp Chinese rice wine
Long slices of spring onion and cucumber
Blend all the marinade ingredients together in a food processor until you have a coarse paste. Spread over the rabbit joints in a deep baking tray, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight.
Remove the tray from the fridge the next day and scrape off any excess marinade. Melt the goose fat in a saucepan and pour over the rabbit in the baking tray. Don’t worry if it doesn’t quite cover the rabbit. Cover the tray with foil and put in the oven at 150ºC for an hour and a half to confit. Turn the oven off and allow everything to completely cool down. Then put back in the fridge overnight for the fat to solidify or you can proceed straight to the next step.*
Max your oven and pull each joint from the fat with tongs or your fingers (leaving some fat on the joints to help them crisp). Arrange them on a shallow baking tray and roast on the top shelf for 20 minutes until crispy. Follow the packet instructions for heating your pancakes, get the hoisin, spring onions and cucumber on the table and let everyone assemble themselves one pancake after another.
* You can keep rabbit confit in an airtight container, such as a kilner jar, for weeks.