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Eat the Seasons - January 2012

In season this month

Fruit & Nuts

Pears (late – Concorde, Doyenne du Comice, Conference and Winter Nellis), Rhubarb

Vegetables & Herbs

Jerusalem Artichokes, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Chicory, Endive, Greens, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Swede.

Meat & Game

Hare, Guinea Fowl, Partridge, Pheasant, Rabbit, Mallard, Venison

Fish & Shellfish

Cockles, Cod, Crab (Brown, Cock and Hen), Mussels, Oyster (Rock), Whiting

Rabbit Ragout with Chestnut Mushrooms & Pasta Sheets

Serves 2

The amazing, rich flavours in this recipe will really warm you up on a cold winters evening.

Wild rabbit meat is leaner and tastier than the farmed variety and has a fabulous subtle, gamey flavour.  However, the recipe will also work with hare, which will produce a much richer flavour. Rabbit is available throughout the year but you're more likely to find the best sized rabbits from July to mid-January.



For the ragu;

4oz chestnut mushrooms

4 tomatoes

3 tbsp unsalted butter

2 leeks, trimmed and finely sliced

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp cabernet sauvignon wine

2 rabbit legs (or diced rabbit if easier to obtain)

2 tbsp olive oil

½ lemon juice and zest

For the pasta;

100g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting

1 egg yolk


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
  • For the ragu; slice the mushrooms and then sauté them in 1 tbsp of the butter.  Set aside.
  • Blanch tomatoes in a pan of boiling water for 10-20 seconds, then drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water until cool enough to handle.  Peel and discard the skins, then roughly chop the flesh.
  • Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat until foaming, then fry the leeks for 5-6 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.  Add a quarter of the chopped tomatoes to the pan, and cook for a further 4-5 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened.  Set aside to cool.
  • Blend the tomato and leek mixture with a stick blender until smooth.  Place an ovenproof pan over a medium heat, pour the mixture into the pan and stir in the tomato paste, wine and the remaining tomatoes.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Carve the meat from the rabbit legs and cut into strips.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the rabbit meat for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally until browned all over.
  • Add the browned rabbit meat to the tomato and leek sauce.  Place the pan into the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the rabbit is tender.
  • For the pasta; sift the flour into a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk.  Using your fingertips, gradually blend the flour into the egg.  Continue to mix with your fingers until the mixture forms a dough.  If the dough is too dry, add a splash of water.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Firmly knead the dough, using the heel of your hand to push the dough down and then away.  Continue kneading the dough for 6-7 minutes, turning it frequently, until it is smooth and elastic.
  • Roll out the dough until it is 1mm thick.  Cut the dough into rectangles 20cm long and 6cm wide.
  • Cook the pasta sheets in a large pan of boiling salted water for 10-20 seconds, or until al dente.  Drain, then add to the ragu and mix until the pasta is evenly coated.  Stir in the mushrooms, then add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • To serve, place the pasta into serving bowls and garnish with lemon zest.