Escofffier the Rabbit was a very dear friend of mine, very dear indeed, and this week marks the anniversary of his death. Little Escoffier (or Scofter as he was known amongst his friends) was my rabbit in residence from December 2009 until December 2010. He lived with me through some tough times, in Wiltshire, in Devon, in Clapham, and finally in Hackney. The Scofter was incorrigible; hopelessly, frenetically randy (due to my refusal to send him away for the snip of his furry ginger danglies) chewing anything he could find (one evening i discovered he’d eaten half of a satin and lace slip i bought at eye-watering price) .He was house-trained to a point- i.e would use his litter box intermittantly with the sofa-afterall variety was the spice of his little life.
Despite all this, he was an amusing, intelligent and brilliantly strange pet. In my life there have been many pets, but none touches the Scofter for amusement. His favourite activities included chewing through nighties, guilt-tripping me into letting him go free-range for prolonged periods of time with those bunny-big eyes of his, disappearing until i was in hysterical fits of tears and then appearing randomly at the top of the stairs looking utterly innocent, eating certain women’s handbags (luckily only those i didnt like-he was a rabbit of impeccable taste-hence the name) and refusing all nutritious organic vegetation i procured (with some difficulty) in favour of the cheapest Asda bunny food which i had to cycle 40 minutes to buy. Once said bunny food was administered he would dig a hole in the bowl, discarding all of the “fillers” to the wind, and eat only the choice morsels (such as squashed peas). A battle of wills would then ensue as i refused to refill the bowl until he ate all of the rubbish bits too. More often than not, the iron will of the Scofter triumphed and i emptied and refilled his bowl- though sometimes he would stage a dirty protest (pee in his bowl) to accelerate the process of victory.
As much as this has been a delightful trip down memory lane (i hope you have enjoyed it, dear reader, as much as i have anyway) the point of this post is not to talk about my deceased bunny-but to commemorate him in the cooking of a wild relative of his, on this the anniversary of his death. Let them say of him that “he died as he had lived”, furiously humping Michael’s trouser leg (the allure of said leg was more than his little heart could take-he died in an ecstasy of Marks-and Spenser red chino) R.I.P my little friend.
Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
Braised Rabbit with Tomato
A wonderful autumnal evening number; start it on a lazy sunday afternoon, go for a brisk walk, and return to a fire and the aroma of braising bunny. Yum.
1 wild bunny, jointed (farmers markets or butchers are your best bet-they should be very cheap)
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, diced
4 rashers streaky bacon
3 cloves garlic, sliced
large glass white wine
2 x tins tomatoes
sprig thyme and a bay leaf
salt and pepper
Chop up the bacon, then fry until golden brown. Season the bunny well, then brown him all over in the bacon pan with a little extra oil (no need to clean pan-you want to keep the bacon flavour). In a separate casserole pot, saute all the veg with the garlic and herbs in a little oil. When the bunny is brown, remove him and set aside. Pour the wine into the browning pan (deglaze) whilst still on the heat and stir (this will dissolve all yummy bacony bunny bits). Pour this liquid into the pot with the veg (they should have been frying for about 20 mins by now). Add the bunny bits, the tomatoes, and a little water just to cover it all.Season carefully now-you can top it up later if necessary. Put the lid on, bring up to a simmer on the hob then bung in the oven at 140. Check after an hour and a half, the bunny should be tender. NOTE: My bunny actually took a good 2 hours at 130. Season more if necessary, and serve with polenta, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, roasted squash, brasied fennel, buttered kale or whatever else takes your fancy.