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Rabbit roast with herbs


No fresh ingredient comes so easily to hand as a bunch of herbs from a pot on the windowsill or a plot in the garden: young leaves fragrant on a sunny morning grabbed as the impulse takes you, ready to explode like a flavour bomb in the dish of your choice.
There’s a thrill for the senses in picking and preparing them: the vivid green of the spring shoots, the aroma as they are separated from the stems that intensifies as you chop them, pound them, stir them in or fry them. The mouth-filling sensation when you just can’t wait, and you take a bite straight off the stem.

Growing herbs is a practical pleasure: they don’t take up much space, they look pretty, they smell gorgeous and you can experiment, adapting your range of pots or plants to suit your tastes in the kitchen and the changing seasons.
You can specialise in the different varieties of the most common kinds of herb, indulging a taste for quality thymes or a mixture of mints – one for tea, one for salad. You can also get to know some of the less well-known herbs: hyssop, savory, borage…
They all taste so much better than anything you can buy, and you will have an abundance of riches to scatter on your dishes: why fork out for a supermarket snippet when you can use a handful of your own?
Recently, I decided to try to grow all the herbs I need at home, only resorting to the occasional big bunch of parsley from the Arab shops near my houseboat. Alongside the well-known herbs I’m growing a few “exotics”: I throw home-grown cinnamon leaves into a pot of rice and I’ve got a curry leaf tree (the leaves don’t taste of curry, though they are widely used in south Asian cooking).
A lot of people don’t know how to use herbs properly. I often see little twigs floating around in the wrong places or a random leaf on top of something to make it look more pretty. But herbs are not about presentation at table: they’re all about flavour.
I think of herbs in two categories, hard and soft. “Hard” herbs are generally the tough ones that can grow through the winter. Think of myrtle, bay, rosemary and sage: these hardier leaves keep their flavour throughout prolonged cooking. They are the herbs I reach for at the start of a dish: they’ll give depth of flavour and a profound aroma by the time I’m finished.
“Soft” herbs such as thyme, dill, marjoram and parsley, need more gentle treatment. If you add them near the start of preparation they get lost: their delicate flavours don’t travel well. But stirred in at the end of cooking they can lift a dish, balance it, give it vibrancy and vigour. When finishing a dish with soft herbs it’s important to use generous quantities.
If you start a dish with hard herbs and finish it with soft ones, you get a beautiful balance: a deep, almost musty flavour from the cooked hard herbs and a vibrant freshness from the raw soft ones.
In the Middle East, herbs are often eaten raw, undressed, wrapped in a flatbread with a bit of fresh, white, salty cheese and a few soft fresh walnuts. Dishes like this, or the lentil salad below which I’ve adapted from French and Italian recipes, call for perfect herbs: no bruised leaves or floppy sprigs. Another reason to get planting now and grow your own.
Rabbit roast with hard herbs
Farmed rabbits have a delicate taste that takes on different flavours well. I used myrtle, rosemary, bay, hyssop and sage; you should use whatever you have growing, or the nicest-looking herbs you can buy.
 
Rabbit roast with hard herbs  By Stevie Parle
Serves 6
Ingredients
1 farmed rabbit, jointed saddle cut in two
1 bulb of garlic (“wet” or spring)
1 large handful of little sprigs of hard herbs
3 whole plum tomatoes from a tin, rinsed
A large glass of white wine
Preheat the oven to 200C/390F/Gas 6.
Put the pieces of rabbit into an oven tray where they fit snugly. I like to use ceramic trays as the heat is distributed more evenly and I find that the cooking is more gentle as a result.
Tuck the herbs all around the meat, cut the garlic into wedges and tuck that in around the meat, too.  Tear the tomatoes, pour in the glass of white wine and then cover loosely with some foil and roast for 25 minutes, until the rabbit is slightly browned and the flesh not too pink inside.
Make a small incision in the largest part of the hind leg and see if it looks too pink and bloody. A slightly pink rabbit is nice, but a rare one is not so good.
 

Recipes
Herbs are the next big zing
The best way to pep up a dish at this time of year is to reach for a handful of young herbs fresh off the stem

 

By Stevie Parle
No fresh ingredient comes so easily to hand as a bunch of herbs from a pot on the windowsill or a plot in the garden: young leaves fragrant on a sunny morning grabbed as the impulse takes you, ready to explode like a flavour bomb in the dish of your choice.
There’s a thrill for the senses in picking and preparing them: the vivid green of the spring shoots, the aroma as they are separated from the stems that intensifies as you chop them, pound them, stir them in or fry them. The mouth-filling sensation when you just can’t wait, and you take a bite straight off the stem.
Growing herbs is a practical pleasure: they don’t take up much space, they look pretty, they smell gorgeous and you can experiment, adapting your range of pots or plants to suit your tastes in the kitchen and the changing seasons.
You can specialise in the different varieties of the most common kinds of herb, indulging a taste for quality thymes or a mixture of mints – one for tea, one for salad. You can also get to know some of the less well-known herbs: hyssop, savory, borage…
They all taste so much better than anything you can buy, and you will have an abundance of riches to scatter on your dishes: why fork out for a supermarket snippet when you can use a handful of your own?
Recently, I decided to try to grow all the herbs I need at home, only resorting to the occasional big bunch of parsley from the Arab shops near my houseboat. Alongside the well-known herbs I’m growing a few “exotics”: I throw home-grown cinnamon leaves into a pot of rice and I’ve got a curry leaf tree (the leaves don’t taste of curry, though they are widely used in south Asian cooking).
A lot of people don’t know how to use herbs properly. I often see little twigs floating around in the wrong places or a random leaf on top of something to make it look more pretty. But herbs are not about presentation at table: they’re all about flavour.
I think of herbs in two categories, hard and soft. “Hard” herbs are generally the tough ones that can grow through the winter. Think of myrtle, bay, rosemary and sage: these hardier leaves keep their flavour throughout prolonged cooking. They are the herbs I reach for at the start of a dish: they’ll give depth of flavour and a profound aroma by the time I’m finished.
“Soft” herbs such as thyme, dill, marjoram and parsley, need more gentle treatment. If you add them near the start of preparation they get lost: their delicate flavours don’t travel well. But stirred in at the end of cooking they can lift a dish, balance it, give it vibrancy and vigour. When finishing a dish with soft herbs it’s important to use generous quantities.
If you start a dish with hard herbs and finish it with soft ones, you get a beautiful balance: a deep, almost musty flavour from the cooked hard herbs and a vibrant freshness from the raw soft ones.
In the Middle East, herbs are often eaten raw, undressed, wrapped in a flatbread with a bit of fresh, white, salty cheese and a few soft fresh walnuts. Dishes like this, or the lentil salad below which I’ve adapted from French and Italian recipes, call for perfect herbs: no bruised leaves or floppy sprigs. Another reason to get planting now and grow your own.
Rabbit roast with hard herbs
Farmed rabbits have a delicate taste that takes on different flavours well. I used myrtle, rosemary, bay, hyssop and sage; you should use whatever you have growing, or the nicest-looking herbs you can buy.
 
Rabbit roast with hard herbs Photo: Andrew Crowley

By Stevie Parle
Serves 6
Ingredients
1 farmed rabbit, jointed saddle cut in two
1 bulb of garlic (“wet” or spring)
1 large handful of little sprigs of hard herbs
3 whole plum tomatoes from a tin, rinsed
A large glass of white wine
Preheat the oven to 200C/390F/Gas 6.
Put the pieces of rabbit into an oven tray where they fit snugly. I like to use ceramic trays as the heat is distributed more evenly and I find that the cooking is more gentle as a result.
Tuck the herbs all around the meat, cut the garlic into wedges and tuck that in around the meat, too.  Tear the tomatoes, pour in the glass of white wine and then cover loosely with some foil and roast for 25 minutes, until the rabbit is slightly browned and the flesh not too pink inside.
Make a small incision in the largest part of the hind leg and see if it looks too pink and bloody. A slightly pink rabbit is nice, but a rare one is not so good.
Recipes
Herbs are the next big zing
The best way to pep up a dish at this time of year is to reach for a handful of young herbs fresh off the stem

 

By Stevie Parle
No fresh ingredient comes so easily to hand as a bunch of herbs from a pot on the windowsill or a plot in the garden: young leaves fragrant on a sunny morning grabbed as the impulse takes you, ready to explode like a flavour bomb in the dish of your choice.
There’s a thrill for the senses in picking and preparing them: the vivid green of the spring shoots, the aroma as they are separated from the stems that intensifies as you chop them, pound them, stir them in or fry them. The mouth-filling sensation when you just can’t wait, and you take a bite straight off the stem.
Growing herbs is a practical pleasure: they don’t take up much space, they look pretty, they smell gorgeous and you can experiment, adapting your range of pots or plants to suit your tastes in the kitchen and the changing seasons.
You can specialise in the different varieties of the most common kinds of herb, indulging a taste for quality thymes or a mixture of mints – one for tea, one for salad. You can also get to know some of the less well-known herbs: hyssop, savory, borage…
They all taste so much better than anything you can buy, and you will have an abundance of riches to scatter on your dishes: why fork out for a supermarket snippet when you can use a handful of your own?
Recently, I decided to try to grow all the herbs I need at home, only resorting to the occasional big bunch of parsley from the Arab shops near my houseboat. Alongside the well-known herbs I’m growing a few “exotics”: I throw home-grown cinnamon leaves into a pot of rice and I’ve got a curry leaf tree (the leaves don’t taste of curry, though they are widely used in south Asian cooking).
A lot of people don’t know how to use herbs properly. I often see little twigs floating around in the wrong places or a random leaf on top of something to make it look more pretty. But herbs are not about presentation at table: they’re all about flavour.
I think of herbs in two categories, hard and soft. “Hard” herbs are generally the tough ones that can grow through the winter. Think of myrtle, bay, rosemary and sage: these hardier leaves keep their flavour throughout prolonged cooking. They are the herbs I reach for at the start of a dish: they’ll give depth of flavour and a profound aroma by the time I’m finished.
“Soft” herbs such as thyme, dill, marjoram and parsley, need more gentle treatment. If you add them near the start of preparation they get lost: their delicate flavours don’t travel well. But stirred in at the end of cooking they can lift a dish, balance it, give it vibrancy and vigour. When finishing a dish with soft herbs it’s important to use generous quantities.
If you start a dish with hard herbs and finish it with soft ones, you get a beautiful balance: a deep, almost musty flavour from the cooked hard herbs and a vibrant freshness from the raw soft ones.
In the Middle East, herbs are often eaten raw, undressed, wrapped in a flatbread with a bit of fresh, white, salty cheese and a few soft fresh walnuts. Dishes like this, or the lentil salad below which I’ve adapted from French and Italian recipes, call for perfect herbs: no bruised leaves or floppy sprigs. Another reason to get planting now and grow your own.
Rabbit roast with hard herbs
Farmed rabbits have a delicate taste that takes on different flavours well. I used myrtle, rosemary, bay, hyssop and sage; you should use whatever you have growing, or the nicest-looking herbs you can buy. 
 
Rabbit roast with herbs

Serves 6
Ingredients
1 farmed rabbit, jointed saddle cut in two
1 bulb of garlic (“wet” or spring)
1 large handful of little sprigs of hard herbs
3 whole plum tomatoes from a tin, rinsed
A large glass of white wine

Preperation
Preheat the oven to 200C/390F/Gas 6.
Put the pieces of rabbit into an oven tray where they fit snugly. I like to use ceramic trays as the heat is distributed more evenly and I find that the cooking is more gentle as a result.
Tuck the herbs all around the meat, cut the garlic into wedges and tuck that in around the meat, too.  Tear the tomatoes, pour in the glass of white wine and then cover loosely with some foil and roast for 25 minutes, until the rabbit is slightly browned and the flesh not too pink inside.
Make a small incision in the largest part of the hind leg and see if it looks too pink and bloody. A slightly pink rabbit is nice, but a rare one is not so good.
By Stevie Parle
 

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