- Mix the flour and thyme with a good pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a large strong freezer bag. Strip the skin off the rabbit legs and put them on a board. Break the joint of each leg by bending it in the opposite direction. You may hear a small crack. Cut each leg in half with a sturdy knife to give 4 rabbit portions. Using a good set of kitchen scissors, trim off any visible fat.
- Put the rabbit portions in the freezer bag, a few at a time, and shake well until they are evenly coated in the flour. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and fry the rabbit, a few pieces at a time, until golden brown all over. As they are browned, transfer the pieces to a large flameproof casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4.
- Put the bacon, onions and celery in the pan used for browning the rabbit and fry for 4–5 minutes over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes more, then tip everything into the casserole dish with the rabbit pieces. Sprinkle in any flour remaining in the freezer bag and stir well.
- Pour about half the cider into the frying pan and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to lift any sediment from the bottom. Simmer for a few seconds, then pour into the casserole. Add the rest of the cider and the stock, then stir in the carrots and bay leaves and bring to a simmer on the hob.
- Cover with a lid and cook in the centre of the oven for 1 hour, then remove the casserole from the oven and stir in the leeks. Pop the dish back into the oven for a further 30–40 minutes or until the rabbit is tender and the sauce thickened. Serve with some green beans or spring greens.