The Aberystwyth Ethicurean

Our Ethicurean friend Sue, located very near to Aberystwyth, will be providing us with Regular food updates from this beautiful part of Wales;

Welcome to the Ystwyth valley, a beautiful, fertile valley where it rains a lot. Autumn this year was mild but very wet, this meant a plentiful mushroom harvest although they were often too soggy to be any good for cooking. You had to rush out on a dry day and know the best spots. Sheep fields and woods are great but fields grazed by cattle are generally too poached.

I know of a very good place where wood blewitt and parasol mushrooms grow in abundance. The banks and woods are full of rabbits and game, so the following recipes are truly local. (Please make sure you have identified the fungi correctly, a good field guide such as Roger Phillips’ books or an experienced foraging companion are essential).

Rabbit and Mushroom Casserole

For 4-6 people

2 wild rabbits jointed
2 large brown onions or 6 shallots
Olive or rapeseed oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp mustard (Welsh or Dijon)
1/2 kilo wild mushrooms
Small bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
Chicken or vegetable stock
Seasoning
Large bunch fresh parsley

Wash and dry the rabbit joints and remove any membrane and shot. Spread a generous amount of mustard on a plate and roll the joints in it to coat lightly, set aside for a while to marinate.

Finely chop the onion or shallots and slice the garlic. Heat the oil in a wide flame and oven proof casserole dish and stew the onions etc for 5 to 10 minutes until melting and reduced. They should not take on too much colour or burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Add more oil to the pot if neccessary and briskly fry the rabbit joints in small batches until well browned on all sides. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf and hot stock and bring to a rapid boil. Put into a moderate oven (150-180) for 1 hour.

Brush the fungi well to remove leaf litter and mud. Put then into a paper bag and shake well, this will dislodge any well hidden insects. Chop roughly and fry briefly in oil or butter.

Take the casserole out of the oven and add mushrooms. The mustard should have thickened and seasoned the stock but you will probably need to add salt and pepper. Return to the oven for a further 1/2 -3/4 hour.

Chop the parsley finely. Take the casserole out of the oven, if the sauce is too liquid boil rapidly for a few minutes to reduce, adjust seasoning and sprinkle on chopped parsley.

Serve with potatoes, noodles or polenta.

Sue Woodford

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