Grilled rabbit with basil oil

Serves 4

Rabbit is a favourite white meat of mine – farmed rabbit preferably, because wild-rabbit meat is a lot stronger and very often riddled with shot. Rabbit lends itself best to either slow or very quick cooking; anything in between can leave it tasting tough. Here, the rabbit is cooked quickly over a grill and served with zingy basil and juicy tomatoes.

4 legs of rabbit, top bone of the thigh removed (ask your butcher to do this)
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 very ripe sweet tomatoes, sliced into rounds
1 small bunch of small-leaf purple basil

For the basil oil

3 large bunches of basil
1 clove of garlic, peeled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml/7fl oz extra-virgin olive oil

Start by making the basil oil. Pull the basil leaves from their stalks and put them into a food processor with the garlic and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Process until the basil is finely chopped.

With the motor running, slowly trickle in the extra-virgin olive oil through the funnel and continue to blend until you have a beautiful, moss-green purée.

Leave to stand for a few minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into a jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (If you have any left over, this basil oil will keep well in the fridge for up to a week.)

Now heat your grill to its highest setting. Rub the rabbit legs with the olive oil and then season with the salt and pepper. Once the grill is hot, lay the rabbit pieces on and cook without turning for five minutes – the rabbit should be well-browned. Turn and cook on the under-side and cook for a further eight minutes, by which time the rabbit should be cooked through to the bone. Remove and let them rest for a few minutes.

Season the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper, drizzle with the basil oil and place the cooked rabbit on top. Spoon over a little more basil oil, and, if you can find it, scatter over some purple basil and serve immediately.

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