Corrado lives in Ragusa and he tells me that it is the Feast of San Giorgio (the patron saint of Ragusa). There are always large festivities for this yearly event celebrated in Ragusa Ibla on the last Sunday in May and Corrado and Barbara (his wife) are going there to take part of the celebrations.
‘Oggi qui a ibla c’è la festa di San Giorgio, e questa sera scenderò a ibla con la mia vespa e con Barbara. La serata è calda è quasi estate…….”
There is no need for me to describe this event because I found a fabulous little film on YouTube (check link). Watching it, reminded me that I had some old photos that were given to me by my brother. One shows the main square of Ibla in celebration mode, and the other is of the statue of San Giorgio; it is kept in the church, but paraded every year in the small streets of Ibla.
‘……non ti saprei dire cosa si mangia in queste occasioni,’
Naturally I am always interested in the food, but Corrado disappointed me by telling me that he is not able to tell me what is eaten on these occasions. And this too reminds me that for a long time I have wanted to write about coniglio a partuisa, a very common way to cook rabbit in this south-eastern part of Sicily. Coniglio alla stemperata is also a local recipe and I will write about this at another time.
The foto of the cooked rabbit was taken In Zia Niluzza’s kitchen the last time I was in Sicily. Unfortunately the foto does not do it justice; the taste of the rabbit is exceptionally good. As you can see it is cooked in a heavy frypan to allow the juices to evaporate and caramelize.
If it is a wild rabbit, to remove the wild taste it is usually soaked in water and vinegar for at least an hour before it is cooked. This will also bleach the flesh.
To make it more visually appealing, I add fresh mint at the time I present it to the table.
1 rabbit cut into smallish pieces, ½ cup green olives, ½ cup capers, 4 cloves garlic, a few sprigs of mint leaves, 3 bay leaves, 1 glass of red wine mixed with ½ cup of red wine vinegar, ½ cup extra virgin oil, salt and pepper to taste. Extra mint leaves for decoration.
PROCESSES:In a large frying pan sauté the rabbit in the hot extra virgin olive oil until golden. Add the seasoning, the olives, garlic, capers and mint.
Reduce the heat, and add the mixture of wine and vinegar gradually while the rabbit is cooking.
If it is a tender rabbit and if it is cut into small enough pieces, the rabbit may be cooked by the time all of the liquid has evaporated. If the rabbit is not as young or as tender as you had hoped, and you feel that it needs to be cooked for longer (this has always been my experience), add a little water, cover with a lid and simmer it gently until it is soft – keep on adding the wine and vinegar. Remove the lid and evaporate the juices. Ensure that the rabbit is that deep golden brown colour when you serve it.
Decorate with fresh mint (for appearance and taste).