Rabbit Lasagne with Mushrooms and Sage Bechamel

Hot on the heels of my British One Hundred, I wanted to cook something celebrating a favourite listed ingredient and one which I feel is seriously underrated – the rabbit. Why do we not eat them more often? Perhaps it is the cute factor putting people off? (OK, so baby rabbits are unbearably cute but I’m not asking you to eat them).

I’ve often heard people saying they don’t eat rabbit as it has ‘too many bones’. Well you don’t need to worry about that in this recipe, because the meat comes off the bone before it is layered into the lasagne and to be frank, I haven’t found this a problem anyway. The UK countryside is practically overrun with the little furry ones so there is a real need to keep the population down and, practicality aside, they taste bloomin’ fantastic, are lean, nutritious and cheap to boot.The rabbit I picked up today is an absolute monster, massive, humongous. It’s enough to feed a whole family or, to make a big ol’ lasagne.

The butcher also gave me some lamb bones for stock, which is simmering, spluttering and plop-plopping away on the stove as I write this post, the delicious scent wafting through every room and most likely out towards the neighbouring flats too. There is something deeply satisfying about making stock, it couldn’t be easier to chuck everything into a pot, cover with water and simmer and yet you are left with the most amazing base for so many dinners, soups, risottos, gravies etc. I like to roast the bones and vegetables before adding them to the pot as it gives a deeper, richer flavour but this is not necessary if you don’t have time.

I used some of this stock in the lasagne (use whatever you have available), which I combined with a good splash of white wine. The final rabbit sauce also gets a good hit of (amongst others) tomato, thyme and mushrooms (see below for note) – rich and deeply comforting. Each pasta layer is then cloaked in a dreamy sage-scented bechamel. Roll on autumn, I’m ready!

Rabbit Lasagne

[We ate the lasagne with some salad leaves from our balcony and some finely sliced fennel in a lemon-olive oil mix, which cuts through the richness of the lasagne]

1 large rabbit, jointed
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
100 ml white wine
1 generous sprig thyme
1 litre stock
2 bay leaves
1 generously heaped tablespoon tomato purée
1 small bunch parsley leaves, chopped
200g mushrooms, cut into chunks (I could only find oyster mushrooms and their flavour was a bit lost in this lasagne. I suggest using a more strongly flavoured fungus in your lasagne)
6 ripe tomatoes, de-seeded (and skinned if you like) and roughly chopped


For the sauce

400ml milk
50g butter
50g flour
Parmesan, grated (a good handful, or to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped sage
salt and pepper

Cheddar cheese, for grating
Lasagne sheets

- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
- Heat some oil in a pan – 3-4 tablespoons (I like to use a roasting tray which I put directly onto the stove top and then transfer to the oven later). Add the rabbit pieces and cook on a high heat until browned on all sides. Remove the rabbit pieces and set aside.
- Add the onions, garlic to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring.
- Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme, cook for a minute, then add back the rabbit pieces. Add the stock, cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and set the rabbit pieces aside.
- Remove the thyme and bay leaves form the pan, then reduce until thickened by approximately half. During this time, shred the rabbit meat from the bones, then add back to the sauce along with the mushrooms and parsley.

For the bechamel

- Bring the milk to almost boiling then set aside.
- Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour and stir vigorously to form a roux. Add a little of the milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated, stirring constantly.
- Add the parmesan and stir to combine before adding the sage and seasoning.

Assembly

- Turn the oven to 180C/350F
- Rabbit mixture, lasagne sheets, bechamel, rabbit mixture, lasagne, bechamel etc. Grated cheese on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Meat Stock Recipe

4 medium meat bones
1 carrot
1 stick celery, in quarters
1 onion, halved
2 juniper berries
4 peppercorns
Pinch salt
2 bay leaves

- Roast the bones and vegetables for 30-40 minutes in a 230C/450F oven.
- Remove and add to a stock pot along with 3 litres water, bring to the boil then simmer for 1.5-2 hours, removing the scum every now and then. Drain through a sieve. Cool and freeze until needed. It will keep for a month or so.

Category: Main Dishes, Meat, Pasta 29 comments »

29 Responses to “Rabbit Lasagne with Mushrooms and Sage Bechamel”

  1. kittie

    Wonderful! I’ve never cooked with rabbit before, but am eagerly awaiting their season! My butcher reckoned September time for the good uns – I might pay him a visit on the way home after work!!!

    kitties last blog post..Scottish Scran 4: Mum’s Steak Pie

  2. Ginger

    Wow, that looks and sounds amazing! We’ve only cooked rabbit once because we find it so hard to locate, I really would like to make more use of it though as it’s so tasty.

    Gingers last blog post..Stir Fried Scallops

  3. Peter G

    Ok..did you save some for me? This looks so rich and amazing Helen…I think I need to be more adventurous with some of my meat choices. Well done!

  4. Helen

    Kittie – I heartily enourage you to get down to that butchers and get yourself a rabbit! They will cut it up for you so there is no fuss and hen you can just enjoy the wonderful flavour!
    Ginger – That is such a shame it is not so readily available where you are. When you do come across one though, at least it will be a delicious treat.
    Peter – Of course I did! I really want people to eat more rabbit, it is so tasty!

  5. Peter

    WHOA! This is outstanding…if this lasagne doesn’t get you a gazillion hits, then the world is whacked!

    Bravo (bowing)!

    Peters last blog post..Soutzoukakia Smyrneika With Olives

  6. Fearless Kitchen

    This looks absolutely phenomenal, and that’s coming from someone with very conservative ideas about lasagne! I love how you’ve added sage to the bechamel – I’ve always found bechamel to be kind of bland, but you’ve cured it.

    I think part of the problem I’ve always had with rabbit is the grease factor – maybe the ones over here are fattier? It’s also hard to find here. The lemony and fennel-y (yes, I made up that word) would really cut through a lot of that heaviness.

    Fearless Kitchens last blog post..Recipe: Pisto Manchego

  7. Katie

    What a fantastic twist on a classic recipe! I always see rabbits running about where my dad lives. I wish I had the guts to catch one- free food!

  8. Pete

    Looks great, Helen. I made a rabbit leg bolognaise a couple of months ago but never considered a lasagne. Great idea and one I will definitely try.

    Petes last blog post..Review: Hawksmoor

  9. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen

    Wow Helen that looks fabulous, but I am one of those weirdos that you sited that just can’t eat rabbit! It is Roberto’s favorite animal of all time and so we just don’t go there! LOL! :)

    JennDZ_The LeftoverQueens last blog post..Recipe: The BEST Homemade Pizza EVER and “Italian Mojitos”

  10. Daziano

    Wow, Helen! Let me tell you this is perfection. Non Italian lasagne tend to be too juicy, but you got it! You really know how to make lasagne the Italian way!!!

    Dazianos last blog post..Crostata di fragole

  11. Terry B

    I’m all for anything that reduces the rabbit population, especially when it looks this delicious! One neighborhood where I lived was overrun by rabbits. Then a coyote moved in for a while; the bunny population took a major dive.

    Terry Bs last blog post..Pasta with pecan pesto, pronto

  12. Kitt

    I’ve only ever had rabbit braised, but I love it. Flavorful and not gamey at all. I’d love to try it in lasagna. It does seem odd that rabbit is not more common in U.S. markets (and expensive as a result). Sure, rabbits are cute, but so are most of the other animals we eat. And they’re so economical to raise.

    And why don’t more people eat squirrel? (Saw this squirrel sandwich video yesterday.)

    Kitts last blog post..I’m No. 1!

  13. Ben

    My dad loves rabbit, but I’ve never cooked with it. This recipe sounds yummy.

    Bens last blog post..Mamey cake

  14. Wendy

    I haven’t tasted rabbit for some reason. Have no qualms about it whatsoever (ethically, I prefer to eat wild meat). Have eaten hare and thought it was horrid. Perhaps that’s what’s stopped me…

    Lovely pics. You’ve really caught what I love most about lasagnes: the bubbling crispy bits!

    Wendys last blog post..Blueberry Soup

  15. Dan

    this looks gorgeous. I wonder if I can trick my family into eating it?

    Dans last blog post..Birthday Pancakes… Sort of

  16. Mike

    That is a beautiful lasagna! I’ve become a bit conflicted–I’ve never tried rabbit before and am curious…but I also have fond memories of my dear and departed pet rabbit from my childhood :-/ . lol, my problems aside though, this sure does look amazing

    Mikes last blog post..Deep-Fried Peaches (and other healthy things)

  17. Irene

    Oh God, what are you trying to do to my hips?! The sauce… the falling-of-the-bone meat…. the runny cheese… I can taste it now, and boy, does it taste good (in my imagination, which is a little less dangerous).

    Irenes last blog post..Afternoon Tea, Part II – Lemon Bars

  18. David Hall

    Helen – it doesn;t take much from you to impress me anyway but a rabbit lasagne?! DROOL! I’m with you all the way, we need to eat more rabbit! I eat a lot of it. Rant over. Well done, cracking recipe.

    Cheers
    Dave

    David Halls last blog post..Born To Be Wild

  19. Helen

    Peter – Blimey! The lasagne was nice but bowing!
    Fearless kitchen – Hmm, maybe the ones over there are fattier, I’m not sure, having never tried one> the wild rabbits over here are fairly lean though, must be all that running aorund and reproducing ;)
    Katie – Yes I’m not sure I could catch my own!
    Pete – Rabbit bolognase sounds really really good! I must try that.
    Jenn- I knew you wouldn’t be able to! that is very sweet of you.
    Daziano – Well I am very honoured to have the seal of approval from an Italian!
    Terry – Lucky coyote….
    Kitt – I totally agree and thanks for the video link, I will check it out.
    Ben – You must try it!
    Wendy – Yes, you must try it, it’s not a gamey flavour at all, it’s sort of like really flavourful and rich tasting chicken.
    Dan – Give it a try, you won’t need to trick them twice I don’t think.
    Mike – Ah, try not to think about your childhood pet when you are eating!
    Irene – I think it is probably better for you than eating red meat so make that dream a reality!
    David – I knew you would be a fan.

  20. Brilynn

    That sounds awesome!
    I like the taste of rabbit but I don’t get it very often.

    Brilynns last blog post..Procrastination: Lemon Pepper Shrimp

  21. Allen of EOL

    I haven’t had rabbit since I was a kid. I don’t even know where I would buy one here in the states – guess I’d need to go huntin’ :-)

    Looks delicious — beautiful photos!

    Allen of EOLs last blog post..Frozen Grapes: a refreshing snack

  22. Kalyn

    Looks fabulous. We had rabbits when I was a kid and I always felt traumatized when we ate the ones I liked most, but hey, I’m over it now. I’m loving sage lately too.

    Kalyns last blog post..Garden Cucumber Salad Recipe with Tuna and Sweet Basil

  23. Jeanne

    I had to laugh – when I was a teenager I refuse to eat rabbit because it looked too much in death like it did in life… and then I grew up. Phew!! I love rabbit and don’t cook with it often enough. As for the bones argument, I don’t see how a rabbit can be any worse than a chicken in that department?! *Love* the sound of this lasagna – you had me at “sage-scented bechamel” :)

    Jeannes last blog post..Thyme and sage roasted spaghetti squash – and a cautionary tale

  24. Y

    I love all your recipes and this one is no different. Everything about this dish makes my mouth water!

    Ys last blog post..Yet another apple crumble?

  25. Sophie

    Helen, this recipe really made me smile when I got back from my holiday in Italy. There’s something very British about the combination, yet a bit Italian too. It just sounds soooo tasty!

    Sophies last blog post..Easy ingredients to make your smoothies nutritious and delicious

  26. Mardhanaya

    Hi, I can?t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please :)

  27. Sophie

    Finally got round to making this tonight and it was really, really good (nom!).

    My OH made the bechamel sauce and now proclaims himself a culinary genius. The sage in the bechamel works wonderfully (I think I’ll try adding it to all lasagnes). No white wine handy so I used a bit of sherry for the ragu part worked just fine.

  28. cafe world

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

  29. Esicurr

    I suspect that Buggs Bunny might be to blame for rabbit meat not being more popular on U.S. plates, although Porky Pig hasn’t had much affect on the love for bacon, ham, and barbecued ribs.


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