Serves 4

Carlings are dried black peas, sometimes referred to as maple peas. They are traditionally eaten in the North on the fifth Sunday of Lent in a dish that rather resembles a pease pudding, made by boiling them in a cloth. I had a hell of a job getting my hands on them - you may well want to use dried peas, or split peas.

Carlings are dried black peas, sometimes referred to as maple peas. They are traditionally eaten in the North on the fifth Sunday of Lent in a dish that rather resembles a pease pudding, made by boiling them in a cloth. I had a hell of a job getting my hands on them - you may well want to use dried peas, or split peas.

I was up in the Peaks visiting the kids and went to Stockport market where I had seen them before. The old market had unfortunately poshed up a bit and sold Puy lentils now instead. I was told Hyde market was the place to go and one of the traders told me that the pet shop was the place to get them, but even they had stopped stocking them. I went to one of the few tripe dressers left in the North, Jack Curvis, although on the way we saw some on a stand selling pulses and Asian goodies.

The carlings are traditionally cooked with cow heel, but I've matched them with rabbit for Easter. The recipe uses only the legs. Save the saddle for a salad as it's too good to braise.

8 wild rabbit legs, chopped in half at the joint
120-150g piece of smoked streaky bacon, sliced into 1cm thick slices, then cut into 1cm chunks
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tsp fresh thyme leaves
75ml white wine
2 litres chicken stock
100g black peas, carlings or maple peas soaked in plenty of cold water for 24 hours
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of wild garlic leaves

Heat the vegetable oil in a thick-bottomed frying pan. Season the rabbit legs and fry them for 3-4 minutes on a high heat until nicely browned on all sides, then remove from the pan and put to one side. Do the same with the bacon, putting it with the rabbit legs. Add the onions, garlic and thyme to the same pan and cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often until soft. Add the white wine, stirring any residue from the bottom of the pan and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Transfer to a thick-bottomed saucepan, add the bacon, chicken stock and drained peas and bring to the boil. Season lightly and simmer gently for 45 minutes with a lid on then add the rabbit legs and cook for a further 45 minutes without a lid, or until the legs are tender. You may need to add a little more water during cooking if the liquid reduces too much. It's always difficult to put times on braising so they may need another 15 minutes or so. Stir in the wild garlic leaves and remove from the heat.

This is a meal in itself and won't really need anything else, although you could serve something simple like buttered spring greens.

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