Saturday, 12 October 2013

Drunken Bunny

Coniglio in Umido con Vino Bianco & Sambuca
Rabbit, Braised in White Wine & Sambuca

Rabbit is not everybody's cup of tea, I know... but I really love it and this evening there was not a cup of tea involved but a half bottle of wine and a shot of Sambuca! No wonder I call this my "drunken bunny"! It was a perfect meal for an Autumn evening- hearty, down-to-earth and delicious!

This is a typical "alla cacciatore" recipe- the kind of thing that the hunter (cacciatore) may have prepared- just using the simple, county basics he would have found at hand. This means the recipe may vary from time to time, but some classic ingredients are there of course- carrots, onion and celery would never be missing, neither would wine, olives, capers and herbs. But as it is Autumn and the fresh tomatoes are a thing of the past, I decide to keep this a light recipe, using a white, rather than red wine and doing without tomatoes in the sauce. And I must say, that for a first attempt- the result was pretty fantastic!

This was a dish that did take a while to make... it is that time of year after all! But it was very easy and the great thing is that it all happens in one pot. I conceived it as being a "secondo piatto", to be enjoyed after a pasta first course and ate it this evening, simply with a hunk of crusty bread, but you could always add potatoes into the mix and make it a full, one pot meal. Or you could even serve it with rice. But you know what? Stick with the bread :-) The sauce you get from this is just too good!

So, first things first- into the saucepan went the rabbit- in this case, 2 front legs. I left them whole- of course you can chop them up, but at the end of the day, the meat ends up being so tender that it falls from the bone easily anyway... so I left them whole, rather than having to cleave through the bones.

I sautéed them briefly in a little olive oil, with garlic, thyme, marjoram and a little salt and pepper. I added for this 2-person portion, 1 good sized carrot, 1 red pointed pepper, 1 stick of celery, 1 onion and a handful of string beans. In they went, with a little spice mix made of 1 clove, 1 spoke of a star anise and a couple of juniper berries, which I crushed with my mortar and pestle. I added a tablespoon of flour to this and then sprinkled it over everything in the saucepan and stirred everything through nicely. And then in went the wine! With a huge hiss of steam, in went around half a bottle of white wine- a pinot grigio in this case and a shot of Sambuca!

Aromatics came next, in the form of finely chopped parsley, a little rosemary and thyme, a couple of bay leaves and a pinch of dried chili flakes, then reduced the temperature to a low, low simmer for 30 minutes, flipping the legs over occasionally every now and then.

After 30 minutes, the vegetables of course were cooked, so I removed most of them with a slotted spoon to keep them from over-cooking completely and then added a few olives and a teaspoon or so of capers to the sauce, before returning it to the heat to simmer away for another 30 minutes or so. 

Of course, rabbit is very tender and is actually cooked within 30-40 minutes... but trust me- cook it for a good while longer and you will really appreciate how well the meat soaks up the flavors and just how tender it gets. So at that point, I returned the vegetables to the sauce to bring them up to temperature and to let them infuse in all of the rich flavors.

After a final 5-10 minutes at the most of the vegetables warming, the rabbit was ready to serve... and I was ready to eat! And how!

This a´w is a lovely, old-style Italian dish- simple in its ingredients but really rich in its flavors... which is what all good cooking is about- simple and good ingredients and flavors, combined carefully and cooked with passion and love. Go ahead and make it and share a little!

No comments:

Post a Comment