I used the legs of wild rabbits to make rabbit confit. The legs will sit under their layer of fat in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but I put them in the freezer if I’m keeping longer (though old recipe books imply they’ll keep for months). When I want to use them, I put them somewhere warm (the back of the aga usually) until the fat softens enough to lift the legs out. The meat is soft and falls easily from the bone – sometimes too easily, in which case I just pull the bone out. I like to fry the legs in a little of the fat and eat them with green salad. The fat left in the container is very good for toasted sandwiches.
50g sea salt
2 bay leaves
Sprig rosemary chopped
4 sprigs of thyme – leaves stripped
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 rabbit legs
Lard – about 500g
Crush the sea salt, bay, rosemary, thyme and pepper. Take a plastic box that’s big enough to pack the rabbit legs in one layer and put two thirds of the salty mixture in the bottom. Place the rabbit legs on top and then sprinkle over the rest of the salt mixture. Cover and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.
Next day, remove the legs and wipe with a bit of kitchen paper and discard the liquid in the box.
Melt the lard in the saucepan and add the rabbit legs – the legs need to be just covered with fat – and heat until the lard is almost at simmering point. Cover and cook in the oven at 130C for 3 – 4 hours until the legs are meltingly soft.
Lift the legs from the liquid and drain on a wire rack while you strain the herbs and stray bits of meat from the liquid. Leave the liquid to stand a while so that the juices and fat separate; the juices can be used in gravies and stews as you only need the fat to preserve the legs.
I like to pack my rabbit legs in pairs as that’s the amount we use in one go, so hunt out some suitable sized plastic boxes (or wide mouthed jars) and spoon enough fat into the bottom to make a 1cm layer. When that’s set, lay your rabbit legs carefully on top and then completely cover with fat. Each leg needs to be completely encased in fat and not touching the sides or the other leg.
Put the lids on the boxes and store in the fridge.