Warm Winter Game Salad from Stephen David, The Crown's Chef-Patron
A colourful quick lunch or light supper, easy to rustle up with a few ingredients prepared ahead in the fridge. Just perfect if you aren’t sure when friends and family are going to be staying over...
Chef's Notes: This is a very flexible dish – you can replace the rabbit with any gamebirds or poultry such as pheasant, duck or partridge and do make use of lovely leftovers from Sunday lunch... We have chosen rabbit because it is very seasonal, great value, tasty and ever more popular with our guests here at The Crown. In this version, I have confited the rabbit legs beforehand – baked slowly in a covering of goose fat, thyme, garlic and bay leaves for several hours – and pan-fried the loin (which we like to serve a little pink to keep the meat moist). A quick cheat would be to buy the French-style confit duck or goose legs in jars or tins and then pan-fry duck breasts to join them.
2 small beetroot, boiled (unpeeled) until tender
12 button onions or 4 long shallots
1 small squash or a half small pumpkin
12 chestnuts, ready cooked and halved
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into half-inch cubes
2 good knobs of butter
200ml extra-virgin rapeseed oil
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp good Suffolk mustard, wholegrain or smooth
2 tbsp Aspall cyder vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper mills
4 thin slices of black pudding
Back legs of one rabbit, confited beforehand and meat flaked
Loins of the rabbit, oiled and seasoned
Handful of wild mushrooms
4 – 6 handfuls of interesting salad leaves such as ruby chard and frisée
Peel, top and tail the beetroot, cut into half-inch cubes and set aside.
Peel the onions or shallots. If using shallots, cut each into 3 or 4 pieces. Peel the squash or pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut into 16 half-inch cubes. Blanch onions and squash in simmering water for several minutes to soften. Drain well and set aside.
In a small medium-hot frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and carefully add the chestnuts, apples, onions and squash, toss around and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle over the icing sugar and keep turning to glaze and caramelise until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and put onto a hot tray and keep warm.
Make the dressing by combining the mustard, vinegar and a good grinding of sea salt and black pepper. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of rapeseed oil. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit (it should be quite piquant and peppery).
Trim the black pudding slices into squares and then cut each into four squares. Heat a frying pan, and add a tablespoon of butter and a splash of oil, when hot, carefully put in the black pudding and fry on both sides until crisp. Set aside on kitchen roll in a warm place.
Warm up a large hot frying pan, add a good glug of oil and when very hot, lay in the rabbit loins carefully, after 20 seconds, turn over, add a tablespoon of butter, baste all over and cook for 20 more seconds, then turn to brown all sides whilst basting, for a total of 2 minutes’ cooking time. If you like your game cooked through, sauté the loins in total for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a hot plate, keeping warm while they rest.
Drain the hot pan, add a splash more oil and a tablespoon of butter over a medium heat, add in the wild mushrooms and sauté for two minutes. Toss in the flaked confit leg to warm through for another minute.
Meanwhile quickly toss the leaves with enough dressing to lightly coat. Divide between 4 large bowls or plates.
Quickly warm through the beetroot in another small pan with a splash of vinaigrette.
Place the drained beetroot onto the leaves along with the black pudding, chestnuts, apples, onions and squash. With a slotted spoon, scatter over the mushrooms and confit leg meat. Finally carve the loin into thick diagonal slices and lay them on top.
TO SERVE: Rabbit, mustard and apples are a classic combination and what better than great local Suffolk cyder to complete the enjoyment – Aspall Premier Cru goes down very well with this.