Rabbit on Watercress with a Port Sauce

Ross Burden has created a magnificent dinner party dish of roasted rabbit with mushrooms, shallots and a rich port sauce
By Ross Burden
Rabbit on Watercress with a Port Sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Effort: hard



  • 3 rabbits, preferably wild
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 25 g butter
  • 240 ml port
  • 500 ml clear chicken stock

For the garnish:

  • 6 large field mushrooms
  • sunflower oil
  • 18 small shallots
  • 45 g butter
  • 500 g trimmed watercress
  • 6 sprigs chervil
  • black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7.

2. Joint the rabbits into saddles and hind legs and reserve. Roughly chop the remaining carcasses, reserving the kidneys.

3. Heat the oil and the 25g of butter in a large heavy roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the carcasses and fry until browned. Remove from the pan and reserve.

4. Brown the legs and saddles in the hot fat remaining in the pan. Return the carcasses to the tin, then transfer to the oven and roast for 12 minutes.

5. Remove the saddles and keep warm while the carcasses and legs continue to roast for a further 10 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, place the field mushrooms in a single layer in a roasting pan in which they fit snugly. Brush with a oil and season. Roast for 10 minutes until tender and beginning to colour. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

7. Once the mushrooms are in the oven, put the shallots in another roasting pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and season. Roast for 8 minutes until beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

8. Remove the rabbit legs from the roasting pan and keep warm with the saddles.

9. Pour the oil from the roasting pan. Set the pan over medium heat and pour in the port. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any sediment. Simmer for a few minutes until reduced by half.

10. Pour in the stock and reduce by half again.

11. While the stock is reducing, melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the watercress and sweat for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

12. Remove the fillets from the saddles and carve each against the grain into about six slices.

13. Arrange the watercress to the side of six warmed plates and top each with some of the sliced rabbit and then a leg.

14. Place a roasted mushroom on the other side of the plate and top with three shallots.

15. Quickly flash-fry the rabbit kidneys in the remaining oil.

16. Place a kidney on top of the shallots and then a sprig of chervil.

17. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and pour round the rabbit.

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