How would you put supper on the table under rationing? To celebrate VE Day, try Philippa Davis' wartime-inspired supper of rabbit and carrot stew with cider and suet dumplings

With meat in short supply during World War II, the public were encouraged to keep rabbits. To celebrate VE Day, Philippa Davis suggests a wartime-inspired supper. Try our recipe for rabbit and carrot stew with cider and suet dumplings.

For more wartime recipes, homity pie was created by the land girls and put the plentiful supply of potatoes to good use. Or try chocolate steamed duff – puddings were a great treat as butter, sugar and eggs were all rationed.


Meat was in short supply as importing was difficult and we turned as much of our agricultural land as possible into growing crops such as potatoes and carrots. The public were, however, encouraged to keep rabbits for the table as they bred well and could be fed on kitchen scraps. I find if I cook the rabbit first then shred the meat, I can get a better yield.

Serves 2


  • 1 tbsp beef dripping or olive oil
  • 1 rabbit, oven ready and jointed
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed not peeled
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 300ml dry cider
  • 300ml water


  • 3 rashers streaky, small diced
  • 1 tsp dried parsley or fresh
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 50g beef suet
  • Seasoning
  • 125ml cold water, approx

For the dumplings, sauté the bacon in a pan until it goes a little crispy, then tip it into a bowl.

Add the parsley, mustard, flour and suet, season well and mix thoroughly. I love lots of black pepper.

Stir in 100ml cold water and try to bring together into a ball; you may need the other 25ml, too.

Form the mixture into 6 balls and place in the fridge.

Meanwhile, in a casserole pot, sauté the rabbit, carrots and onion in the beef fat until they take on a little colour.

Add the thyme, rosemary, cider and water. Season well, bring to a simmer and cook with a lid on for 2 hours or until the rabbit meat is tender.

Remove the rabbit and add the dumplings, simmering gently for 20 minutes.

While the dumplings are cooking and when the rabbit is cool enough to handle, shred the meat in chunks from the bone.

Put the meat back into the pot once the dumplings are cooked – you may need to move a few dumplings temporarily out to do this – and stir.

Serve hot with mashed potato.