It always surprises me when a lamb recipe uses beef stock for the sauce, or when a veal recipe uses chicken stock for the sauce, or… well I guess you catch my drift. Of course such substitutions can be made when the ‘proper’ stock is not readily available, but I believe that to get a lamb dish that tastes of lamb, or a veal dish that tastes of veal, it is best to use stock made from meat and bones of the same animal. And the same goes for rabbit. Another good reason for making rabbit stock is that when you buy a whole rabbit, there are parts that you otherwise wouldn’t use. At least, I don’t personally have a craving for deep-fried rabbit head. But that rabbit head (included also for showing that it is actually a rabbit and not a cat; for the same reason in many countries rabbits are sold with their furry feet still attached) and other leftovers from the whole rabbit are perfect for making stock.
And so here is my recipe for rabbit stock, which closely resembles my recipe for brown chicken stock. You can make it with a pressure cooker or without. Never add salt to a stock before you have reduced it to the desired thickness. You can always add salt later, but once it is in, you can’t get it out anymore. Like all stocks, this recipe is very simple and much better than anything store-bought. Not that I have ever heard of store-bought rabbit stock…
1 celery stick
some fresh thyme
some fresh parsley
1 bay leave
some black pepper corns
a bit of olive oil
1 litre/quart of water
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F (forced air). Roughly chop the rabbit and vegetables. Put all in an oven proof dish, and toss with some olive oil until lighted coated on all sides. The layer of oil is important to get some good browning.
If not using a pressure cooker, bring the water to a boil first. Remove the scum that will rise to the surface with a slotted spoon. Then add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and pepper corns (you would have regretted adding them before removing the scum, especially the pepper corns). Reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 3 hours.
The easiest way to remove the fat is to allow the stock to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it. The fat will become a solid layer on top that you can easily remove. As rabbit is usually very lean, most of this fat will be the olive oil you added for the roasting and there is thus not much use for this fat.