Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuscan Rabbit Ragù

No, I haven’t lost my mind and eaten the Easter Bunny. I’m still caught up in recipes from the New York Times. They had an article on slaughtering and cooking rabbit. I kind of enjoyed the image of urban hipsters attending a workshop to learn how to kill and butcher animals. One attendee even brought her own knives.

Naturally, the article was followed by recipes, of which this one sounded really good. Except for the rabbit, of course. I decided to try it using chicken instead.

I was intrigued by the use of red onion, which tends to be sweeter than yellow onions, and by the lack of garlic. Seems like most everything I cook has garlic in it. I was disappointed when I couldn’t find pancetta or prosciutto at my local grocery store and had to settle for bacon. Ditto the Parmesan cheese rind. I’m still scratching my head over the “nonreactive” pot. I’ve never seen a pot that reacts. Reacts to what? How? Must be an urban hipster thing.

Olive oil that “shimmers”. Interesting concept. I didn’t see any “shimmering”, but it did get hot. Cooking veggies in oil for 25 minutes is okay. Not so much the bacon. Bacon cooked in oil gets soft and greasy. I think I would have preferred cooking the bacon first until crispy, removing it and then adding the olive oil and veggies, adding the bacon back in with the rabbit/chicken.

After simmering for two hours, I was pretty hungry. So hungry, in fact, that I forgot to add the thyme and rosemary at the end. Served over my usual rice (what I had in the house), it was pretty good. Then I remembered the thyme and rosemary and added it for the following night when it was even better. I’ll definitely be making this again. With chicken.

Verdict: Yum!! This one’s a keeper!!

Tuscan Rabbit Ragù

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
¼ pound pancetta, bacon or prosciutto, diced
One 3- to 4-pound rabbit, cut into 6 or 8 pieces
1 cup white wine
A Parmesan cheese rind, optional
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 to 3 cups chicken stock or water
Black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary.

Place a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot over medium-low heat. Add olive oil and when it shimmers, add onion, carrot, celery and pancetta. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and caramelized (about 25 minutes).

Raise heat to medium-high. Add rabbit. Brown lightly on all sides. Add wine and stir, scraping bottom of pan. Add cheese rind if using, tomato paste, bay leaves and stock or water. Stir well, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce heat to low.
Simmer, lid slightly ajar, until meat is tender and nearly falling off the bone, about 2 hours.

Remove rabbit from sauce. When cool enough to handle, shred rabbit. Return meat to pot. Add thyme and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Reheat gently before serving. Ragù may be spooned over warm polenta or tossed with pasta, butter, more fresh herbs and grated Parmesan or pecorino Toscano.

Yield: About 4 cups, or 4 to 6 servings.

Recycle: olive oil bottle, wine bottle, tomato paste can

Compost: onion skins, carrot peels, celery leaves, bay leaves

1 comment:

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