Skye Gyngell is the head chef at Petersham Nurseries and here she shares with MyDaily the autumnal feast taken from her new book, How I Cook.
"This low-key Sunday lunch menu is stylish in its simplicity. I love the colours when all the dishes are laid together on the table.Caramel shades of brown and cream - quiet, subtle and heartwarming. I rarely cook with cream, but here a small amount of crème fraîche (lighter and slightly sour) is important," she told us.
"The flavours, like the colours, flow into each other - nothing asserts itself too strongly. Autumn is the season for wild mushrooms and the perfect time for this menu. If for some reason you don't want to cook rabbit, substitute a 1.5kg organic free-range chicken, cut into eight pieces."
2 small free-range farmed rabbits
20g unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices of pancetta, derinded and sliced into 3mm strips
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 bay leaves
bunch of thyme
500ml good-quality chicken stock (preferably home-made)
3 heads of chicory (Belgium endive)
150ml crème fraîche
1. Place the rabbits on a board. Using a sharp knife, slice between the top of the thigh and the hip bone, snap the bone in between and continue to slice through until the leg separates easily from the body - do the same to the front legs. Set the saddles aside for another use (they are delicious grilled and tossed with salad leaves in a light dressing).
2. Place a large heavy-based pan over a low heat. Once the pan is warm, add the butter and let it melt. Season the rabbit all over with salt and pepper and brown in the butter, in batches if necessary, don't overcrowd the pan otherwise the meat will stew rather than brown well. Once the rabbit is a good colour all over, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
3. Now add the pancetta strips to the pan with the shallot, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Cook gently for 10 minutes until the shallot is soft and translucent and the pancetta begins to impart a lovely smoky aroma.
4. Pour in the chicken stock and turn the heat up to medium. Return the rabbit to the pan, put the lid on and turn the heat right down. Cook very gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
5. Peel off and discard the outermost layer of the chicory bulbs, then slice each lengthways into about 6 strips. Add to the pan, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes.
6. Lastly spoon in the crème fraîche and stir well to combine. Season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt. Transfer to a warm serving dish.
"I prefer to use farmed rather than wild rabbit," adds Skye. "Gentler and less gamey in flavour, its flesh is sweeter. Rabbit needs to be either roasted (or grilled) quickly, or cooked slowly over a low heat for a substantial amount of time. It is the cooking in between that can make the meat tough.
Create Skye's perfect autumn menu at home with these other delicious recipes:
Rabbit with endive and pancetta
Puree of parsnips
Date and sherry ice cream
All recipes taken from Skye Gyngell's How I Cook, published by Quadrille.