Cooking is wonderful and about the only practical thing I can do reasonably well. But with all the other million things I need and want to do every day, I’ve come to seriously appreciate dishes that maximise the impact while minimsing the effort. Step forward, stews.
I’m endlessly – some would say alarmingly – enthusiastic about stews and they are perfect for late autumn. Atmospheric, satisfiying, very difficult to mess up, I love so many of them. I’d do a Morocco-inspired one with lamb, apricots, honey and ras-el-hanout or a Spanish version with chicken, sherry and mushrooms. Pork with apples, beef with five-spice powder, lentils with herby sausages…
My favourite autumn stew also happens to be one of the easiest: Rabbit in Cider with Mustard and Tarragon. All the information you really need for making this is in the title, but let’s give it a quick run-through:
- Get some pieces of rabbit and season them with salt and pepper. If you can be bothered, brown them on a frying pan, but this is absolutely not necessary.
- Put the rabbit pieces in a pot, add a bottle of real cider and any amount of tarragon you want. I add a lot, because I’ve been obsessed with tarragon for about a year now.
- Bring to a simmer and let it simmer away for an hour and a half (I like it to almost fall apart).
- Towards the end of cooking, stir in a tablespoon of mustard.
That’s it, result. You can play around with it, of course. I often add vegetables, to eliminate the need for any side dishes: carrot, celery, celeriac, parsnip, swedes, potatoes all work well. Garlic and onion are always a good addition, as are apples. If you don’t like tarragon, thyme, rosmary, oregano or a combination of them are absolutely fine. You can substitute cream for mustard or just use cider and nothing else. You could make it with chicken intead of rabbit. I don’t know why I bothered with a recipe at all, because clearly you can make a stew out of anything. Please do.