Monday, 2 July 2012


To celebrate today's stage, the recipe for a typical Tournaisienne dish, rabbit with prunes (Lapin à la Tournaisienne). It is traditionally served on Lost Monday (the first Monday after Epiphany) – and pretty much all the rest of the year as well. You might want to accompany your Lapin with Tournai's own Trappist St Martin beer or perhaps liqueur de chicon, made with endives

Rabbit used to be fairly widely available in UK supermarkets, but I think a general sqeamishness and dislike of eating cute fluffy animals has seen it disappear except from more specialist retailers (though I occasionally find it in Waitrose). Go to a proper butcher (if you can find one) for joints of rabbit. Or substitute with chicken thighs (but do buy the ones with the bone in, as these are more succulent and lend themselves to slow cooking). This is definitely one of those dishes which improves with being allowed to steep in its own gamey juices, so make it in advance and then heat it up before serving. And it does need to be cooked slow and long to prevent the rabbit becoming tough.

We enjoyed this wholesome, hearty dish with Orval, another trappist beer local to Tournai, followed by a pudding of Liège waffles with strawberries and ice-cream.

Serves 4

1 rabbit, jointed (or sufficient chicken thighs)
4 onions
2 tbsps of plain flour
12 prunes
a bit of butter or baking oil
1 litre of beer (Belgian, naturally)
A fresh bay leaf and a sprig of thyme

Heat a casserole with the butter and the baking oil, put the pieces in it and brown them.
Remove the pieces from the casserole, lower the heat a little, and lightly fry the chopped onions. Then add a big spoon of flour and mix very quickly. Drizzle with beer. Put the pieces back, add the rest of the beer so the ingredients are completely covered. Add salt and pepper (to taste), bay and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 hours if using rabbit joints until the meat is soft and falling away from the bone.

Add the prunes thirty minutes before the cooking is finished. Mix them gently with the pieces of rabbit. Serve with frites and a fine Belgian beer of your choice.

Vive le Tour!

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