This is the first of three recipes featuring rabbit. The recipe I am describing here is from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, so we are speaking about the north of the country. For the initial sauté of onions, we will use lard and butter because, in the past, these were the most available cooking fats to the people of that area. Olive oil was more available to those families living along the coastline of Liguria or in regions like Tuscany and Umbria where there is extensive cultivation of olive trees. Rabbit is very popular in Italy and every farm I know there, breeds some for their own use. I have eaten rabbit all my life; I think it is a very good alternative to chicken and give us the chance to cook something different. It’s cheap to buy, easy to cook and delicious to eat. As an accompaniment to this dish I would recommend polenta.
Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):
Nutrition facts: Calories 650 per serving.
Ingredients (U.S. measurements):
First of all, cut the rabbit into pieces. You should be able to cut the front and back legs without crunching any bones. Split bones are a nightmare when cooking rabbit, so try to cut the animal neatly. Keep the kidneys, liver and heart because these are the best parts to eat.
Put the rabbit cuts into a large bowl filled with cold water. Add the vinegar into the water, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for one hour or so.
At the same time, put kidneys, liver and heart into a small container and refrigerate.
After about an hour, take the bowl out of the fridge, discard the water, rinse the rabbit cuts and finally pat them dry.
Take a large sauté pan and start melting the lard together with the butter. At this stage, cook on a medium-high heat.
When the fats start sizzling, add the onion and the celery into the pan (both thinly sliced).
Sauté for 3-4 minutes, to give some colour.
Add the rabbit cuts into the pan.
Cook each side of the cuts for few minutes.
Here, I am cooking the second side.
Then, when both sides have achieved some colour, add the wine into the pan.
A couple of minuets after the wine, add the tomato passata into the pan.
Stir, so that the tomato passata is evenly distributed around the pan.
Then, add only half of the stock available. Technically speaking you should not need any more stock; however if something goes wrong and you think that the pan content is getting too dry or slightly burnt, you still have some extra stock left.
Season with salt.
Season with black pepper.
Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 1 hour, turning the rabbit cuts every 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley and garlic together.
After the rabbit cuts have been cooking on low heat for 1 hour, add the parsley and garlic mix. Give the whole thing a good stir and continue cooking for another 10 minutes with the lid on.
Once the 10 minutes have passed, add the kidneys, liver and heart into the pan. These need only 10 minutes to cook and you can do so without lid, so that we start to reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency.
This is what you should get after about 90 minutes cooking.
Plate the rabbit and serve. As I said, ideally I would serve this dish with polenta and, of course, a large glass of robust red wine.
Federico Pezzaioli is an ex-badass Italian Paratrooper on a mission - to make creating delicious authentic Italian food really easy. He researches, writes and photographs each recipe with the same attention to detail he used to apply to packing his parachute.
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