Spelt Risotto with confit wild rabbit

This recipe contains two fantastic British products, organic pearled Spelt and Old Winchester cheese. We've been trying to move towards using mainly British produced ingredients in the restaurant, and although we have a long way to go yet, these two products will definitely remain on our menu for the future.
I discovered Spelt recently through the 'Taste of The West' awards. It's an ancient grain and a distant cousin of wheat, introduced to England, it's thought, by the Romans.
I had been looking for an alternative to rice and the pearled spelt is as good as, if not better than, rice. It doesn't have the stickiness of risotto rice but retains an aldente centre which gives a wonderful bite to the texture.
Old Winchester is a vegetarian, hard cheese, with a delicious deep flavour which I use in place of Parmesan.
Confit can refer to preserving by immersion, historically this was fruits preserved in sugar. More commonly confit is used to describe a method of cooking by slow poaching in oil or fat, French confit is typically Duck or Goose poached in fat whereas in Italy it is poached in olive oil. I use vegetable oil or duck fat, a few herbs in the oil will infuse a great flavour to the meat, the meat is seasoned with brine before slow poaching for a few hours to create a delicious flavoursome meat. Rabbit works brilliantly as it is a lean meat and the method of cooking stops it drying out which is often a problem when roasting rabbit as they are naturally very lean.

(Serves 4)

Spelt Risotto:
120g pearled spelt (available from Sharpham Park - Tel. 01458 844080 or www.sharphampark.com
2 x Onions
75g Old Winchester cheese (finely grated) (available from Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers - Tel. 01794 390451 or www.lyburnfarm.co.uk
500ml Stock (Chicken or vegetable)
250g Bag of spinach or 200g nettle leaves (if in season)
Knob of butter
Pinch of salt

Confit wild rabbit:
1 wild rabbit (cleaned and quartered by your butcher)
100g salt
1.5 ltr vegetable oil
Small bunch of thyme
Spelt Risotto:

  • Finely chop the onions and sauté in a pan with a little butter and salt until translucent

  • Add the Spelt and mix. Add approx 1/3 of the warmed stock and bring to a low simmer. Stir whilst simmering until the liquid is absorbed

  • Add another 1/3 of the warmed stock and stir. Once the liquid has been absorbed, you have a choice; it'll only take 10 minutes to finish the dish, or you can store the risotto for up to 48 hours in the fridge

  • Add the remaining stock. Simmer and stir until most of it has been absorbed, then add the finely grated cheese, and stir

  • Add the spinach or washed nettle leaves, stir until all the liquid has been absorbed and the leaves are cooked

Confit wild rabbit:

  • Make a brine by mixing the salt with 1.5 ltr water. Place the rabbit pieces in a bowl and pour the brine over until the rabbit is well covered. Put in a fridge for 24 hours

  • To make the confit, take the rabbit out of the bowl of brine, wipe-off excess moisture and place in a suitable large pan (where the rabbit pieces have enough space not to be touching)

  • Pour the vegetable oil over the rabbit until it is covered and throw in the thyme

  • Bring the pan to a temperature of 80-90C (this might be best to do in an oven). Leave at this temperature for 4 hours

  • Remove the pan from the oven and take the rabbit out. Dry-off any excess oil

  • Flake the meat from the bones

To serve, spoon the risotto into a large bowl and place the rabbit meat on top. Decorate with a sprig of fresh thyme.


  1. I love the idea of this, although as a veggie I'd have to skip the rabbit (sorry!) Not tried risotto with spelt before.

    Also, I use "Not Just A Pasta Cheese" (used to be called Twineham Grange) in place of Parmesan - it's really good. But I will look out for Old Winchester to try.

  2. Mat, Is there summat else in the risotto? Not sure about the presentation of the Rabbit - but hey, its how it tastes! ;-)

  3. Looks very good. I spent last winter working on a motor yacht in Italy and made a fair few rabbit stews throwing a few handfuls of spelt in towards the end. It adds a great nuttiness and soaks up all the delicious rabbit juices!


  4. I had a great dish in of glazes beef cheeks iwht salsify , trio of onions (pickled, caramelised and fried), cress and pearl spelt in Copenhagen last month. I was really bowled over with the toothsome texture of the spelt.

  5. I think spelt in a risotto is a great idea and gives it a great texture. Thanks for sharing this recipe!