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Recipe Development: Saddle of Rabbit with a Cider Reduction
Overview

Alison talks you through the thought process for her dish. She tries to use as much of the rabbit as possible throughout her dish from the saddle, to the legs and the livers to minimise wastage. She explains the different cooking processes used for the different meat cuts and how she incorporates both heritage varieties and wild produce when it comes to the accompanying vegetables and greens. This dish is hyper-seasonal so depending on the time of year you're cooking in, you may need to make substitutes accordingly.

Development Stages

Key Components:

Nose-to-tail - Alison's dish was inspired by using the whole rabbit. Not only is this more sustainable but historically when money was tight for families, it was common place to make the animal stretch further using offcuts for stock-making and flavour. She uses the rabbit loin as the main cut of meat, the legs for creating a confit bed and using the livers and all the trimmings of the bones, meat offcuts and fat as stock for the sauce.

Handling Different Meat Cuts - the loin can be quite a dry cut like chicken breast, if you don’t have any fat, so by cooking on the bone we help to keep it nice and moist as the bone conducts heat cooking the meat more evenly and preventing it from drying out or shrinking during the cooking process. The leg of the meat is a slow cooking piece of meat so to avoid any drying out during the longer cooking process, Alison adds in some duck fat to keep it nice and moist. Resting the meat is key especially when cooking on the bone to allow the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute for a more tender, juicy result.

Seasonal Produce - Alison's dish is closely linked to the seasons. She was cooking in Spring which is where in Ireland you'll find plenty of fresh greens. She decided to use peas and wild garlic to make a green emulsion with the butter - bringing both a freshness and a burst of colour to the plate.

Heritage Potatoes -  the rabbit is served with Irish potato fondants specifically, pink fir apple potatoes - an Irish heritage breed of potato. This nutty tasting potato is a very old variety that was a major food crop for peasant farmers until the potato blight and Irish famine in 1845 that led to many of its variety being lost or abandoned. It recent years they've gained popularity, often used in salads.

Teachings:

  1. Butchery - Learn to breakdown a whole rabbit leaving the saddle on the bone and preparing the legs for our rillette with minimal wastage.
  2. Rillette - Preservation methods are a key part of cooking sustainably. This lesson you'll be using a traditional french cooking method that's similar to a confit, using duck fat to preserve your meat.
  3. Stocks - Learn the basic techniques of creating a stock for a sauce - browning bones and vegetables and reducing.

Make It Your Own:

  1. Rabbit - rabbit has a fairly mild flavour but the texture is similar to thigh meat from a chicken or a duck. You could also try a young chicken such as a cornish hen or poussin.
  2. Pink Fir Apple Potato/Heritage Crops - you can play around with different potato varieties such as Red Emily or you can try pink and purple varieties. Have a look for heritage crop varieties in your local area for inspiration. Many chefs like using heritage crops as they are much more than just a vegetable or a fruit, they come with a story and are heirlooms which have been entrusted to the next generations for example, the Trail of Tears bean which got its name from Cherokee Indians who took the bean along with them when displaced by American settlers in the 1830's.
  3. Greens - Alison uses wild garlic in her dish, but you can look to sea herbs for inspiration or other wild ingredients. Alternatively, you can look to see what's at the farmers market or growing in your garden at the time of year you're cooking in - water cress, beans, sugar snap peas, cabbage, spinach, asparagus...all great options.

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Alison Tierney
I've worked in a variety of restaurants from casual to Michelin star and follow the ethos of using the best local produce from our Island.