So as my frugal living continues, and yes I am still on track, I stuck to my budget last week and planned my meals, even sticking to it when nights out were planned and fuzzy heads ensued the next day. Its been quite a reminiscent week, mostly because I attended a party for my old company Exodus – they have been operating group tours for 40 years – crazy!! I worked there for nearly seven and I thought that was pretty epic, I cannot imagine where I will possibly be in 40 years, hopefully still turning out amazing cakes and feeling less guilty about eating that last bit of cake frosting in the bowl….. mmm frosting! Yep that happened this week as well – frosting eating!
But as my frugal living continues I need to keep planning ahead and thinking about whats in the fridge and what amazing meals I can make from it. For me this frugal month and planning is all about finding the best ingredients for the best price and making them into dishes that are full of flavour and if possible make multiple portions! With this in mind, I set out to explore a local farmers market that is held in a local school. The market has been going on for years but some how I have never been there – shocking I know. I am always on the look out for new produce and somehow I have just had blinkers on and never visited, but alas I have finally ventured to the Chestnut Grove Farmers Market in Balham.
This is a great little farmers market, held in the car park of a local school it has a good selection of stalls, from bread, to meat and vegetables. There was also a couple of cake stands – always important, because who doesn’t love a piece of cake post shopping! There is always the worry with Farmers Markets that they are just full of ‘artisanal’ products with a big price tag, but I was wonderfully surprised to see that the Chestnut Grove Farmers market was full of great local producers and their products at great prices.
So as I filled my bag with fresh salad leaves and vegetables from Wild Country Organics, and picked a yummy piece of cake from Cakehole, I wondered past a stall selling meat, and guess what caught my eye, wild rabbit! I have been oddly obsessed with rabbit for a few weeks now, I don’t know why but I have felt the need to make a rich delicious Rabbit Ragu. My rabbit came from Grove Farm. The wild rabbit was £7 or two for £10, a bargain!! As a first time rabbit buyer I decided to stick with just the one… however next time, I am getting the two!
Of course buying a whole rabbit does pose a small question of – how does one joint a rabbit? This called for one thing, a facetime chat to my dad the chef! So after a somewhat comedy jointing lesson via the phone I had a rabbit ready to go in the pot. It’s definitely a life lesson learnt, but I feel a better person for it. Next time I get trapped in the woods and need to survive, as long as someone presents me with an already dead and skinned rabbit, I am good to go!!
Wild Rabbit Ragu
1 Rabbit Jointed
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 white onions, finely chopped
160g pancetta, cubed or chopped finely
4 gloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
300ml chicken stock
400ml chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy based pot. Add the rabbit pieces to the pot and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the pancetta and fry for a couple of minutes until cooked and starting to brown. Then add the celery, carrots, onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat or 10mins until soft. Add the tomato puree and stir it through the vegetables. Continue to cook for a further 2-3mins.
3. Return the rabbit to the pot and add the stock, chopped tomatoes, herbs and stir. Bring the pot to the boil and then add the lid and turn it down to a very low simmer for 1.5hrs, stirring occasionally. Taste half way through and season.
4. After the 1.5hrs remove the rabbit and strip the meat from the bones. Add the meat back into the pot and stir through, season to taste. ( You can discard of the bones!). Continue to simmer the ragu for a further 30mins.
5. Serve the Ragu with fresh pappardelle pasta and a touch of parmesan.
This makes a good sizeable amount, so you will get 5-6 portions, so its perfect for freezing! This is a great dish, rabbit is a lean meat, its full of flavour and it makes a massive amount, so perfect for planning ahead and filling the freezer. Its not always possible to get rabbits so when you see them get them as next time they may not be around!