rabbit is one of the foods that i’ve never eaten. i had a pet rabbit when i was growing up and that’s how i think of rabbits – as pets not food. this is different to chickens which we also had (for eggs) but regularly ate.

however, a few weeks ago, after watching the river cottage treatment (the latest hugh fearnley-whittingstall show which encourages people to think about where their food comes from and be ethical in how they source their food), i said yes when someone offered me a rabbit. after all, i eat other animals, why not try this one?

i think the trails and tribulations of ms glaze, a chef on the meat station in a 3-star restaurant in paris, whose blog i love reading and who i admire enormously as a result, also influenced me!

the rabbit has been sitting in the freezer since then but this weekend i decided to be brave. time to portion, cook and then eat the rabbit!

i decided to stick with the italian themed cooking i’ve been doing since my recent trip to italy and used a version of a recipe from fay maschler’s eating in.

for me, there was definitely a fear-factor in jointing, cooking and eating a rabbit. i wonder if this will still be there next time. however, the end result was good and produced a lovely dish with lots of flavour.

will i cook rabbit again? i honestly don’t know, but i’m glad i tried it.

fay maschler’s rabbit as i remember it in italy (serves 2 with leftovers)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large handful of chopped pancetta

1 onion peeled and chopped

1 rabbit, jointed (don’t use the ribs, they just add lots of extra bones for very little extra meat)

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

200ml red wine

40og tin of chopped tomatoes

juice of half a lemon

4 springs of fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (these add a nice kick)

salt and pepper

fry the bacon in the olive oil until the fat runs. add the onion and cook until softened. add the rabbit joints and garlic, turning the heat up and frying until the meat is lightly browned.

add the wine, let it bubble for a few minutes then add the tomatoes, lemon juice, herbs, sugar and chilli flakes. cover and simmer until the meat is tender - around an hour and a quarter. taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. remove the bay leaf and thyme and serve.

fay maschler suggests accompanying it with garlic bread. polenta would be lovely or copy me and serve it with pasta.

leftovers – i have taken the meat off the bone, chopped it finely and mixed with the leftover tomatoey sauce. this will form the basis of a rich ragu which we will have with pasta ribbons and salad.