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Rabbit Stew

This recipe is in categories Main courses, World War 2,
About this recipe:
Difficulty: 3

Cooking could be very challenging during the war years. Frequent air raids could make it difficult to cook a hot meal. Once the sirens sounded everyone would head for their shelters to wait it out. No one wanted food to became spoiled because it had to be left, rations were not replaced if anything happened to them.

In the centuries before this, farm workers had sometimes used a hay box to keep food slowly cooking but now this method re-gained popularity. A stew or soup could be left packed tightly in hay inside a box where it would continue to cook slowly until needed. This could then provide a hot meal for a family when the raid was over.

Rabbits could be caught wild and the government encouraged people to keep them to provide food. This recipe uses rabbit and was adapted from a pre-war recipe which used cider. The wartime version uses grated apple instead.

For images of the cooking process see our Rabbit Stew Picture Gallery.

With thanks to Sarah Gilkes (Warp and Weft) and Pam McMillan (Time Travelers) for their help with this podcast.


Making and cooking it
  1. Put the rabbit to soak in cold water with the vinegar for 30 minutes 
  2. Remove and dry well
  3. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper and coat the rabbit joints
  4. Heat the dripping and add the bacon rinds.  Then add the rabbit joints and cook steadily for about 10 minutes or until golden brown in colour 
  5. Remove from the pan
  6. Add the bacon, onions and carrots and cook for 5 minutes then return the rabbit to the pan
  7. Add the water or stock and the grated apple and stir as the liquid comes to the  boil and thickens slightly 
  8. Add the herbs
  9. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes
  10. Quickly put dish into the hay box and leave for 4 to 5 hours
  11. Serve with seasonal vegetables