Taking it Apart and Putting it Together Again
For the second episode of my TV series, Christoffel Cooks, the TV company asked me to cook “something different”. As if my Roast Roadkill which I cooked in the first programme wasn’t different enough. But I bit my tongue and agreed.
I suggested rabbit, but before I could explain the full concept – not as you will have ever seen it cooked before – my co-presenter, Ainsley Harricot was laughing and scoffing that rabbit was about as different as Neapolitan ice cream.
At this point, I took the producer to one side and suggested I cook it without Ainsley being aware of exactly how I was doing it. That way, he would eat it “as a customer would see it”. The producer liked that idea.
Cue carte-blanche pour moi.
I started by making some black jelly and put it in the fridge to set. More on that later.
Then I set about the rabbit, skinning it carefully, removing the nose, feet, ears and tail and putting them to one side. Then I gutted it and fried the heart, kidneys and liver in a wine reduction. (The liver is a real delicacy!) I cut up the meat from the body, fried it with shallots and baby vegetables and minced some of it to make a tartare. Then I wrapped the fur back around the cooked meat and, along with the ears, sewed it up with invisible cotton. Before (almost) finally scooping out the rabbit’s brains and eyes, seasoning them, adding a pinch of paprika and placing them back where they had come from. To complete the effect, I stuck the rabbit’s feet back under its body, using edible glue, and the bobtail back on its rear end.
Then the pièce de résistance: you may have noticed I did not replace the original nose. Instead, I retrieved the black jelly and using a modelling knife, placed it where the rabbit’s nose had been. Thus, every time you moved the rabbit, the nose wiggled as if it was still in a Sussex field and not on an exquisite dinner plate.
Done. Rabbit: cooked and re-assembled it so it looked as good as new. Nose-to-tail eating at its most extreme. Especially the nose.
Then I served it to Ainsley.
As I said, he hadn’t been told what I was doing so he didn’t know what to expect as he tucked in. He ate the main meat, got through the offal and, to be fair to him, tried sucking the feet. I didn’t encourage him to eat the eyes; I thought that was a step too far – after he gagged on the brains. There were also these pitiful cries emanating from him every time the rabbit’s nose wobbled. Before it fell off onto his plate.
Could be interesting to see what sort of response this programme gets when it airs.