Bruny Island Bunny – Slow Cooked
It’s great having friends to stay, as you get to show off the place you call home. In this case, my home is on two islands – the mainland of Tasmania and Bruny Island just off to the south east of the big island. The Cape Bruny lighthouse was our destination and is situated on Bruny’s South Island (Bruny is usually referred to as two islands, joined by an isthmus) overlooking Cloudy Bay.Colonial architect John Lee Archer designed the 13 metre high Cape Bruny lighthouse from local stone and it cost a staggering 2,500 pounds to build, even though it was constructed using convict labour. The lighthouse was first lit in 1838 and is the oldest continuously-manned lighthouse in Australia. It was decommissioned in 1996, when it was replaced by a solar-powered tower. The original parabolic reflectors used approximately half a litre of sperm (whale) oil every hour of use – no wonder the early whalers (there was a whaling station on the island) nearly wiped them out.However, what really got Brunyfire interested was not the staggeringly beautiful coastal views, or the architectural complexities of the building but the surrounding terrain. This here is rabbit country and their telltale signatures were evident everywhere.Being the forager that I aspire to being, in spirit at least – Brunyfire was already wondering how to braise and broil these little beauties. These critters looked like domesticated bunnies, gone feral as they were quite unusual colours for wild rabbits – no animals were harmed in the making of this story by the way – Brunyfire’s not up to speed in the huntin’ ‘n’ trapping department these days, so these guys were quite safe.Richard Clarke, a Bruny Islander with a license to hunt and kill the local wildlife is quite capable however and has an abattoir on the island, and is able to provide not only rabbit, but wallaby and possum – all of which makes very tasty eating. Wild rabbits are known to be leaner than their fat farmed cousins and Brunyfire’s local Sandy Bay butcher, Vermey’s, supplies both wild and farmed. Vermey’s is recognised as being a provider of high quality, hormone free produce and has taken out numerous awards for its snags.Richard was demonstrating his butchering skills at the last MOMA (MONA Market)…….…..which was nothing like the preparations Brunyfire used to cook the dish below (I was in a hurry and Vermey’s the Butcher only had a frozen bunny, which had to be ripped through the bandsaw a few times to fit into the pot)….Whilst Richard demonstrated his knife wielding skills, the remaining local wildlife lounged around on MONA’s pink beanbags grazing and enjoying themselves.But back on the island, the wood oven had been lit and allowed to burn for about 3 hours – the coals were then shoved to the back of the oven…….…..and a couple of my favourite Pearson’s casserole’s filled up with sliced onions, several whole garlic cloves, chopped carrots, diced belly pork (to provide some moisture to the rabbit that can otherwise become dry), beef stock and some white beans that had been soaked overnight. Add handfuls of rosemary and any other herbs lying around, pop it into the oven for about 3 hours.During the last 15 minutes, pop some flaky pastry on the top of the meat in the casserole, and allow to rise – serve straight away.Pretty damned tasty though I do say so myself…….