Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

The best recipes are almost always circonstancial.

Whether it’s a trip to the farmer’s market, a recent visit to a new favourite restaurant or simply a massive fridge forage and the realisation that half of what’s in it needs using, those lightbulb moments are what inspire me most in the kitchen.

With Autumn being very much on its way, I’ve been craving comfort food more and more in the last few days.

So of course, I turned to Italian classics, because as much as I wish the French would do better at it, nobody does comfort food quite like the Italians…

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

With bolognese on my mind, I went on a little bit of a fridge/freezer forage.

Memories of a beautiful pasta dish we had in Paris, the last few remaining pieces of rabbit my grandma brought in her luggage when she last visited, a can of olives fished from the back of a cupboard, a few bits and bobs from a previous Farmdrop order

… slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and this rich and zingy Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe was born!

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle (serves 2-3)

Ingredients: 250g fresh pappardelle (I get mine from La Tua Pasta via Farmdrop), 1/2 rabbit (about 600g, preferably leg pieces as they have fewer small bones), 1 small shallot (finely chopped), 2 rashers of smoked bacon, cut into small pieces, handful of cherry tomatoes (about 200g, chopped roughly), small handful pitted black olives (about 15, sliced), 1L good quality chicken or vegetable stock, zest of 1/4 lemon (grated), 2 bay leaves, 1 fresh sprig of thyme, pinch of smoked paprika, 5 pepper corns + freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, good quality olive oil, grated parmesan to serve

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil, then add the rabbit pieces. Season with a small pinch of sea salt. Cook over high heat for a few minutes until golden. Add the bay leaves and the peppercorns, then pour in the chicken/vegetable stock. Cover the pot, reduce to a small simmer and cook for about an hour or until the meat starts falling off the bones, topping with a little bit of water if necessary.

2. Take the rabbit pieces off the cooking stock and let if cool off before taking all the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and shred the rabbit to bite-sized pieces.

3. Cook the pappardelle according to packaging instructions.

4. In a large pan or wok, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil. Add the chopped shallot and the bacon bits and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start breaking down (about 5-10 min), adding a bit of the cooking stock if necessary. Throw in the sliced olives, lemon zest and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 min.

5. Drain the pasta, add to the pan and toss to coat. Serve immediately with some freshly grated parmesan.

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Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

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Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

Rabbit restaurant, Chelsea

If there is tapas made anywhere in London, it’s likely you’ll find me somewhere around some time soon.

So after visiting one of the most fantastic exhibitions of the year, we went down to the woods and stumbled upon Rabbit on the way.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

Opened by three brothers who grew up on a farm in Sussex, the small restaurant makes for the most charming rural spot right in the middle of Chelsea (oh, the irony!).

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + WhiskyRabbit | British tapas | Cake + WhiskyRabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

With its wood and stone walls, its subtle natural tones and its decidedly bucolic decoration, Rabbit offers a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of London’s metropolitan life.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

And how cool are those antic-tractor-seats-turned-chairs? They definitely give you a sense of that farm-to-table business rabbit is all about!

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

Definitely not cool enough to divert my attention away from the food though!

Especially when the mise-en-bouches look as good as those!

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

Pretty-as-a-picture Beetroot Crisp, Goats Cheese and Blackberry Jam.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

Hake Rillettes which remind me of summer holiday picnics.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

And my favourite of all: the glorious Confit Rabbit and Tarragon on Parmesan Sablé.

So good I could have eaten dozens of those.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

But it was a good call to keep some stomach space for one of Rabbit’s signature dishes: Chorizo and Labneh.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

Studded with crisp bread shards and incredibly morish kale crisps, it has almost nothing in common with the Spanish sausage dish but is equally delicious!

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

The Lamb Chips disappear so quickly I barely had time to click a picture.

Another of the restaurant’s signature dishes and an absolute must-order in my book (and I’m sure anyone else’s).

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

The prettiest of all plates came in the form of a lot of cauliflower.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

Rainbow Cauliflower, Smoked Onions, Rocket and Almond Pesto.

Just as delicious as it is pretty and the kind of dishes I hoped we’d see more of in restaurants.

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

Another winner was the Duck Liver, Radicchio, Chives and Golden Grapes.

Deeply umami and a game changer (see what I did there?)!

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

The Wild Mushroom Ragu is a strong favourite amongst the restaurant’s patrons.

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Crispy sage leaves, creamy celeriac mash and some of the best (and most truffled, in the good sense of the word) damn mushrooms I’ve ever had!

Rabbit | British tapas | Cake + Whisky

I’m quite demanding when it comes to pudding, but I might just have found my new favourite.

Honeycomb, dipped in chocolate and served atop dollops of vanilla mascarpone.

Basically heaven in a mouthful and a combination I fully intend to re-use very soon!

And all together quite representative of the food at Rabbit: simple, sophisticated and just right. Everything good food should be.

Rabbit, 172 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4UP Rabbit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rabbit restaurant, Chelsea