Saturday, 9 March 2013

Are You Hopping to Scarborough Fair?

Coniglio a Spezzatino
Pan-Braised Rabbit with Tomato & Olives

Because if you are- do you mind bringing me back some parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme? You see, those are the spices I used to make this wonderful rabbit dish this evening. 
Just simple, classic, country flavors... the kind that probably poor bunny used to enjoy himself way back when! Especially if he had been skipping across the Sicilian countryside... past olive trees and tomato patches, through celery stalks and over onion tops... ah yes- and not to forget the carrots he would have loved along the way. It seems all of these things needed to be brought together this evening in a kind of tribute- and what a sending off for my rabbit it was!

I decided to braise my rabbit thigh on the stove top rather than the oven as I was making a single serving- but the ingredients and method would be the same either way should you decide to make a whole beast or simply more portions. The main ingredient you need here is an hour of patience whist the bunny bastes in it's own juices and the tomato, herb and vegetable broth. Let me tell you how I made it... you're going to like it because it is totally simple... as usual!

I started off by frying the rabbit in just a little olive oil, with crushed garlic and some finely chopped rosemary. Once it began to sizzle and turn from pink to white, I sprinkled it lightly with flour and added the chopped celery, carrots and a lovely, large spring onion. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, a little cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne, a couple of cloves, a leaf of bay and just a small splash of vinegar. I followed the vinegar with a tablespoon or so of tomato paste, which I stirred n well for a minute or two and then deglazed the pan with boiling water- just enough to cover the bunny half way. I added a few sprigs of thyme, 4-5 sage leaves and a good sprinkle of finely chopped parsley. Then down went the temperature, to a low simmer and on went the lid!

20 minutes later, it was time to turn the rabbit over and gently stir the vegetables through. I also topped up the water a little and then put back the lid and let it busy itself with becoming tender whilst I put my feet up for a while... for a further 20 minutes to be precise. I then added 4-5 cherry tomatoes, cut in half and a few black olives, cut into slices. I spooned the juices over the rabbit and then added a sprinkle of fresh thyme, then put the lid back on for the final 10 minutes or so until the tomatoes were cooked and everything was just perfect! 

Yes, this was a wine-free, family dish- but of course you could deglaze the pan with wine and make the sauce richer still... but this was totally delicious as it was. All I needed was little crusty bread and I was happy with this just the way it was. And somehow I think that you will be too...

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