Ragout of Baby Vegetables with Rabbit Confit and Polenta Croutons

Rabbit legs prepared as a confit is my favourite way of enjoying them. Anyone who thinks of rabbit as a tough meat which should only be eaten in stews will be pleasantly surprised in the tenderness and flavour of the meat, when prepared in this manner.

Portions: 4 Portions

Preparation: 15 minutes plus the time preparing the confit

Cooking: Cooking Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

Vegetable Ragout:

  • 12 baby parsnips, trimmed and cleaned, leaving 1cm of green tops on
  • 12 baby carrots, trimmed and cleaned, leaving 1cm of green tops on
  • 6 small artichoke whole hearts or 4 large quartered *
  • 150g Jerusalem artichokes (small or larger ones cut in half), washed and peeled
  • 16 baby asparagus, trimmed or 16 asparagus tips
  • 500ml vegetable, rabbit or chicken stock
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 rosemary stem
  • 1 thyme stem
  • 1 tbps tarragon leaves
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper

Rabbit:

  • 4 confit rabbit legs, prepared as described for the duck. (remove it from the fridge 1 hour before reheating)

Polenta Croutons:

  • 200g Polenta (instant)
  • 500ml water or vegetable or chicken stock
  • 50g butter
  • 120g Parmesan, grated
  • 3 tbsp sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 100g Parmesan grated (extra)

To Serve:

  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and diced (concasse)
  • 2 tbsp basil leaves, shredded
  • 2 tbsp chervil leaves

Method

  1. Polenta:In a large saucepan bring the water or stock to the boil then whisk in the polenta vigorously so as to avoid lumps. Cook the polenta over a moderate heat stirring with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes or until it comes away from the sides, stiff and tender or prepare it according to the instructions on the packet.. Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the butter, mixed herbs, garlic and Parmesan so that they are well distributed. Lightly oil a tray and pour the polenta on to it, with spatula dipped in hot water or a palate knife spread it out evenly so that it is around 1.5cm thick. Cool and allow the polenta to set at room temperature for 1 hour or in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When set with a 5cm biscuit cutter cut out 8-12 croutons. Place them covered in the fridge until ready to reheat. This step can be done a day in advance or you can freeze them for up to 6 months. When ready to serve place them under hot grill with a little extra Parmesan sprinkled over the top and cook them for 3-5 minutes until they are golden brown.
  2. Vegetable Ragout:Place the stock with the wine, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and garlic cloves in a large saucepan and bring it to the boil. When boiling add the parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes and reduce the stock to a simmer and cook them for 8 minutes, then add the artichokes and carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes, finally add the asparagus tips and cook for 1-2 minutes so that they are just tender. Remove all the vegetables from the stock and refresh them in ice cold water and set aside until ready to reheat. Reduce the stock by two thirds strain the stock (removing the garlic, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme). Return the stock to a saucepan and set aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve bring the stock to a strong simmer and add all the vegetables except the asparagus and cook them for 5 minutes then add the asparagus tips, tarragon and seasoning and cook for 30 seconds and serve.
  3. Rabbit:Heat a frying pan over a high heat. Remove the rabbit from the fat and place it in the frying pan, reduce the heat to moderately high and cook for around 3 minutes on either side so that it is hot. Remove the rabbit from the pan and with a fork shred the meat from the bone and keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. To Serve:Distribute the vegetable ragout onto 4 warm plates. Sprinkle the rabbit confit over the vegetables and place 2-3 polenta croutons in the centre. Sprinkle the tomato, basil and chervil around the plates and serve.
* How to prepare raw artichoke hearts: Have a quartered lemon on hand and a bowl of water with plenty of lemon juice. Trim the stalk leaving 1-2cm of it on (if you are preparing large ones to sit flat on a plate cut it all off). Then proceed to pull off the leaves starting with the first layer pulling it back to the base and snapping it off, discard the leaf, continue this until you get to the tender green leave (rub around it with the lemon so it doesn't blacken). Cut off the top of the leaves to around two thirds down and with a spoon, scoop out the choke from the centre of it (this is the furry part that is uneatable). With a small knife trim the green part off the stem and base, rub the artichoke bottom all over with the lemon and place it in the bowl of water with the lemon juice until ready to cook.