We’re putting it out there, we’re not vegan but we do love new and interesting ways to eat food in a sustainable way and to indulge in local traditions when we travel. We’ll almost eat anything.
On our recent travels we’ve found that unlike back home there isn’t quite the same enthusiasm for switching to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in France, Spain, Portugal or Italy but there is a healthy appetite for eating fruit, vegetables in salads etc and eating local.
Their markets are full of meats, cheeses, bread and sweet delights. And that’s another thing – there is a strong focus on maintaining local markets and even supermarkets have a lot of fresh produce which looks in a much better condition than our local Sainsbury’s back home!
They are also more inclined to sell vegetables, fruits etc that are in season and locally made cheeses. Like beaufort in the French Alps or crescenza, a soft creamy cheese we have at lunch in Umbria, Italy.
When you say you’re cooking rabbit a lot of people will cringe at the idea of eating an animal you might have kept as a pet when your were a kid, but in Italy and France it’s much more common and part of a longstanding tradition of hunting rabbits for food.
Albeit a versatile meat, like chicken, it’s also known for being a bit dry at times so a lot of recipes tend to use rabbit meat in stews, broths, ragu. As it’s fairly mild it goes well with strong, punchy flavours such as fennel, tomatoes or mustard as it’s traditionally eaten in France.
Having had it only once before we decided to buy some from a market in Nimes, in the South of France and cook it in an Italian style – best of both worlds!
Recipe: Tuscany Style Rabbit
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or Gas Mark 4
- Take a whole rabbit or also works with rabbit loin or hind legs (a bit more tough) and dust the meat in some flour.
- Pop this in a frying pan with some oil for 2 minutes each side until golden and put in a baking dish.
- You can use the oil in the pan to cook fennel seeds, garlic and pancetta together for 3/4 minutes. (Rabbit meat needs some bacon/pancetta to add some fat to the dish as it’s incredibly lean)
- Add to this some white wine and balsamic vinegar and reduce by half
- Add tomatoes and rosemary then bring to boil (bay leaves are also a good addition)
- Take this mix to the baking dish and pour it over the rabbit and put in the oven for around one hour and a half.
- Check the meat is tender, bring it out, add some parsley if you like and eat with polenta or pasta.