© David Loftus
grilled and marinated rabbit (coniglio marinato alla griglia)
I’ve written this recipe to be cooked on the barbecue, because the flavor will be amazing, but it also works really well when roasted in the oven at 400°F. If you cook it in the oven, turn the pieces of rabbit several times to ensure even color and cooking. If you cook it on the barbecue, you’ll need five wooden or metal skewers (soak wooden ones before you use them). Whether barbecuing or roasting, see the picture for your rough timings.
Put your rabbit pieces into a bowl. Using a pestle and mortar, or a blender, bash or whiz up the thyme and rosemary leaves to a pulp, then add the garlic cloves and bash or whiz again. Stir in 8 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon zest and juice, and the honey, and pour this over the rabbit. Put the meat to one side and let it come to room temperature while you light your barbecue.
Now I’m going to talk about flavor. Tie your thyme sprigs together like a little brush. Each time you turn the meat, dab it with a little of the marinade to give you a lovely encrusted layer of flavor. This rabbit is going to be really tasty!
Keeping the marinade to one side, remove the pieces of meat and season with salt and pepper. Sandwich 2 slices of pancetta between the 2 pieces of belly using 3 skewers (see picture). Put the legs and shoulder on the barbecue. When they’ve been cooking for 10 minutes, put the belly on. After another 10 minutes put the saddle and ribs on. Make sure you turn the meat over every so often. Look after it by controlling the temperature and basting it continuously with the marinade. Cut three-quarters of the way through each kidney and open it out like a book. Cut the liver into 4 pieces and push one piece onto each remaining skewer, followed by a kidney and more liver.
When all the pieces of meat are beautifully cooked, add your skewered bits of kidney and liver onto the barbecue and cook until golden, along with your 2 remaining slices of pancetta. After a few minutes, when the pancetta is browned, put it on top of the meat at the cooler end of the barbie. Now get your guests around the table.
You can serve the rabbit with any white beans, or roast potatoes, or grilled vegetables, or different salads – it really depends on how you feel and what the weather’s like. Just put a big bowl of your chosen accompaniment in the middle of the table and serve all the meat on a board. Lovely with a glass of white wine. Simple, honest, and bloody good.
• 1 2 1/2-lb rabbit, preferably wild, cut up
• a handful of fresh thyme and rosemary,
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled
• olive oil
• zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 thick slices of pancetta