Rabbit legs braised in cider, bacon wrapped loin, carrot puree and leeks

Mark McGrath's National Dish recipe.


  • for the rabbit legs (will make two portions):
  • 2 rabbit legs
  • 0.50 a white onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 large carrot
  • 200ml cider
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tblsp juniper berries
  • 7 good thyme sprigs
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper.
  • a knob of butter
  • for the rabbit loin
  • 2 loins of rabbit ( 1 might be enough but to make sure there is enough uniformly thick pieces 2 might be needed)
  • 6 slices of unsmoked streaky bacon (to ensure enough to wrap loins)
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • a knob of butter
  • for the carrot puree (will make 2 portions):
  • 3 large carrots
  • 10g butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 200ml water
  • for the leeks:
  • i leek
  • for garnish:
  • a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 6 hazelnuts (preferably skinned)


  1. From the start:
  2. Heat the casserole dish over a high heat.
  3. Crush 2 tbsp of juniper berries in a pestle and mortar and add 1 tsp of salt and 2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Coat the two rabbit legs in this rub.
  4. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the hot casserole pan and brown the legs all over. As the legs are browning chop ½ an onion and slice a celery stick and a large carrot at an angle into 2cm slices.
  5. Add the chopped vegtables, 4 thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves and stir for a couple of minutes. Reserve 3 sprigs of thyme for the jus later.
  6. Add in the cider and bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about an hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 1800C.
  8. Place a pot on a high heat and fill with boiling, salted water. Trim the dark green tops off the leak and wash it.
  9. Blanch the leek in the water until just tender, about 6 minutes. Refresh in ice water and then slice into 2cm thick rounds.
  10. Leave the leeks aside ready to be pan fried later.
  11. Place the 6 hazelnuts into the baking tray and roast for about 8 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t over roast. They should be lightly browned and have a very nutty fragrance. Remove the nuts and slightly crush in the pestle and mortar and leave aside ready for plating.
  12. Reduce the oven to 1500C.
  13. Wrap the 2 rabbit loins in enough streaky bacon to completely cover the length of the loins and secure with 2 toothpicks per loin. Leave these aside ready for cooking later.
  14. Halve the 3 carrots lengthways and slice into very thin semi-circles.
  15. Boil 200ml of water in the pot and add the 15g of butter and bay leaf.
  16. Add the carrots with some salt and cover the pot cooking until tender (about 8-12 minutes)
  17. Remove the bay leaf and transfer to the food processor and blend for 2 minutes until smooth.
  18. Return to the pot for heating later.
  19. 25 minutes to go:
  20. Place a couple of ladels of the braising liquid from the casserole dish in a saucepan and place the casserole dish in the oven.
  21. Heat the saucepan over a medium heat and reduce the sauce until the desired strength of flavour is achieved, adding more of the thyme leaves if needed and whisking in some of the butter to enrich. Pass through a sieve when ready.
  22. 20 minutes to go:
  23. Heat the pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
  24. Fry the loins and the leak rounds for 4 minutes per side, turning to try brown all over. Add the butter to the pan two minutes from the end and baste.
  25. During the first 4 minutes of cooking the loins, remove the casserole from the oven and rest for ten minutes.
  26. Remove loins and leak from the pan and and tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes.
  27. As the rabbit is resting heat up the carrot puree over a low heat.
  28. To finish:
  29. Chop a handful of fresh parsley.
  30. Cut the rabbit thigh so as it will stand on the plate. Stand this up in the centre of the plate.
  31. Place the 3 best looking leak rounds around the rabbit in the centre of the plate.
  32. Spoon 3 circles of the carrot puree around the edge of the plate, in a triangle. Drag the back of the spoon through the puree to elongate the shape of the puree on the plate.
  33. Cut the loins into three on the diagonal and add to the plate, on top of the carrot puree.
  34. Spoon over some of the reduced jus.
  35. Chop the parsley and hazelnuts and place around the plate and on top of the rabbit loin.

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