The sunshine seeps out of Rick Stein’s new eponymous cookbook Rick Stein’s Spain, so what better to turn to on a damp winter evening.
It’s lavishly illustrated with the sort of photos which make your mouth water and long to be having a long late lunch in a dusty square or dark cafe seeking refuge from the heat. Cheffy it’s not and is all the better for it. He is very precise with amounts and method to help the less experienced cook, but, as I did, you can be a bit fast and loose depending on what you’ve got in the cupboard, and the recipes are robust enough to be forgiving. Each recipe comes with a little story – about history or provenance or simply where Rick ate the dish which adds to the colour.
I chose Toledo-Style Rabbit with Spices, Pine Nuts and Raisins, which Rick suggests you can also do with chicken, which I did, as I happened to have some chicken breasts to hand. But the recipe would be even better with the rabbit or, if you do want to use chicken, choose joints on the bone which adapt better to the slow braising.
The recipe comes from Toledo, in the north west corner of La Mancha, which was taken by the Moors in 712, who brought exotic spices and the idea of cooking meat with fruit with them.
The ingredient list looks long, but is a gentle braise of rabbit, shallots and carrots with a beautifully judged mix of spices, herbs, honey and wine. My adapted version tasted heavenly, with gently caramelised shallot, soft chicken and a sauce of deep, warm earthy flavours. Go try it.