Tag Archives: How to cook Rabbit

RABBIT with cloves, cinnamon and red wine (CONIGLIO DA LICODIA EUBEA)

rabbitlegs-250x250

 

Rabbit for Easter?

I have cooked rabbit a few times lately – there seems to be plenty of it about. They are breeding like rabbits seems a very appropriate term, given the excellent breeding conditions for them in most of Australia – good rainfall and abundant vegetation of good nutritional value.

Where possible I buy wild rabbit. I like to think that helping to reduce the rabbit population is a good thing for the environment – wild rabbits have contributed to the extinction of many plant species and by their selective grazing they deplete the high-quality feed for some native species and livestock. The loss of vegetation also contributes to soil erosion.

I found a version of this recipe in Pino Correnti’s Il Libro D’oro della Cucina e dei Vini di Sicilia. As is often the case in Sicilian recipes, there is very little detail about the method of cooking and there are no quantities given, but the following combination works for me. The recipe is from Licodia Eubea, a small town in the province of Catania. It is close to Vizzini and not far from Caltagerone – all are north of Ragusa.

In this recipe the rabbit is marinated in red wine before cooking. If I am cooking a wild rabbit I marinate it overnight, if it is a farmed rabbit 3 hours are plenty.

I have cooked this rabbit several times and each time I have added more personal touches – whole mushrooms or whole onions, more spices. On one occasion I presented it with fregola – this is the Sardinian version of couscous that is common in Southern Sardinia around Cagliari. It is cooked like pasta in boiling, salted water for about 10 minutes and drained. (I am not sure that the Sicilians would approve, or the Sardinians for that matter.)

I use one rabbit to feed four people (usually weighs just below 1 kilo).

INGREDIENTS

rabbit,1

red wine, 1½ cups

cloves, 6-8

bay leaves, 4-6

garlic, 2 cloves, each cut into halves

cinnamon sticks, 1-2

extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup

salt and pepper to taste

tomato paste, 2 tablespoons, dissolved in a little water

rosemary sprigs, fresh 3-4

mint, fresh, 6-8 leaves

onions, whole,1-2 per person

PROCESSES:
Clean the rabbit and cut it into manageable sections at the joints.
Marinate it in the wine, some of the oil, bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves and turn it occasionally.
Remove the pieces of rabbit from the marinade and drain well. Keep the marinade with the bay, cinnamon and cloves for cooking.
Cut small slits into the flesh of the rabbit and insert the garlic into the slits (the recipe just lists garlic in the list of ingredients).
Add the rest of the extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the pieces until golden. Remove them and set aside.
Reduce the heat, add the whole onions to the oil and toss them around until golden.
Add salt and pepper, the diluted tomato paste, mint, rosemary, the wine marinade with the bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves (if you want to accentuate the taste of the aromatics you may wish to discard the old bay leaves and cloves in the marinade and add new ones).
Cover with a lid and simmer it gently until it is cooked (wild rabbit will take twice as long to cook as the farmed rabbit and you may need to add extra liquid).
Remove the lid and evaporate the juices if necessary.
I like to serve it with more fresh, mint leaves.

 

HARE or RABBIT COOKED IN CHOCOLATE. Lepre o Coniglio al Cioccolato (‘Nciculattatu is the Sicilian term used)

One of my favourite ways to cook rabbit or hare is with chocolate; chicken can also be cooked in the same way but is less common. If it is chicken it will cook in a relatively short time, a rabbit will take longer and a hare will take much longer – I cooked hare and it took close to three hours to cook.

There are several Spanish and South American recipes where chocolate is used in savoury dishes so the chocolate does not need to be considered unfeasible – Spaniards ruled Sicily over long periods.

Those of you who have been to eastern Sicily may have noticed the Baroque architecture that is especially prevalent in this part of Sicily and you may have visited Modica, the centre for Sicilian chocolate; this is where the recipe is said to have its roots.

In this Sicilian recipe the rabbit (or hare) is cooked in the same way as alla stemperata (in all stemperata dishes the ingredients include celery, carrots, onions, vinegar, sugar, raisins or sultanas, pine nuts, green olives and capers) but fennel seeds and cloves replace the last two ingredients and finally dark chocolate is used to enrich and thicken the sauce. The flavours in the stemperata have been partly accredited to the Arabs and are characteristic of much of Sicilian cuisine.

Hare, like all game benefits from marinading in wine before cooking. I do this when I am cooking rabbit as well, but there is no need to marinate chicken. I always save some of the leftover cooked hare and sauce for a pasta dish – use ribbon pasta, e.g. tagliatelle or pappardelle.

Whenever I buy hare I remember butcher shops in Italy where each beast is often left with a part of its body to make it recognizable – the head or the foreleg complete with fur, hoof, claw or paw.

INGREDIENTS

hare, rabbit or chicken 1.5- 2 k
dark chocolate, 200 g
onion, 1-2 sliced
red or white dry wine, 1 cup
wine vinegar, ½ cup
cloves, 6-8
celery, 4 stalks, sliced finely
carrots, 3 sliced finely
bay leaves, 4-6
fennel seeds,1 large tablespoon
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
chilli flakes and salt to taste
pine nuts,1 cup
raisins or sultanas, ½ cup (naturally sun dried)
sugar, 1 tablespoon

PROCESSES:
Clean the hare or rabbit or chicken and cut it into manageable sections at the joints.

Marinate it in the wine and half of the quantity of the oil and bay leaves for at least 3 hours and turn it occasionally (if cooking chicken you could marinade it for 1 hour if you wish).
Remove the pieces of meat and drain well; keep the marinade for cooking.
Add the rest of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the pieces until golden. Remove them and set aside.
Add the onions, carrots and celery to the same pan and sauté until soft but not coloured.
Reduce the heat, and add the wine marinade, bay leaves, fennel seeds and cloves, the seasoning and vinegar. Cover with a lid and simmer it gently until it is soft – the time will vary as it depends on the meat. For example farmed rabbit will cook in a little time ( 40-60 minutes, the same as chicken, whereas a wild rabbit could take 2-3 hours).You may need to add some water periodically as it cooks so that it does not dry out (this has always been my experience).
Add the sultanas or raisins, pine nuts and chocolate about 30 minutes before it is cooked  Remove the lid and evaporate the juices if necessary.
More rabbit recipes:
CONIGLIO A PARTUISA (Braised rabbit as cooked in Ragusa)
PAPPARDELLE