I know. I know. I’ve been very tardy about posting. But, with the Rangers and the Cowboys and my birthday and company in town, October has been a very busy month for me. My apologies. I hate to have kept you waiting while Bugs was potentially boiling away in the pot.
The rabbit landed in the freezer while I agonized over recipes that might work. It’s hard for me to trust just any source, especially when I have no experience with a dish. Finally I thought, “what would the Italians do”? They’re great with strange animals and body parts. I picked up my Cook’s Illlustrated Italian Classics. They had one rabbit recipe listed, “Braised Rabbit”. That was it. And easy, too.
I was surprised to find when I went to unwrap the bunny that this was, in fact, America’s Favorite Rabbit. I was unaware that America had a favorite rabbit. Paying $18 for the little guy seemed more tolerable in light of it’s popularity.
The first thing I noticed about the naked rabbit was it’s longness. I don’t know, I guess I just thought it would be all round like when one is sitting in a cage. Not so. And what’s up with that liver? Did this rabbit have a drinking problem or something? That’s one hell of a liver for an animal this size. The recipe called for reserving the liver for the sauce, which I did. Other guts went into the trash.
It looks a little less weird once it’s chopped up. Notice the loin was cut into two pieces. Evidently it’s much more tender and will dry out quickly. It goes in at the end of the cooking time. Also notice the poultry shears which made this little butchering job 100% easier. My knife skills are not very wide ranging. I can chop the hell out of something. But, cutting through joints and back bones is a challenge for me.
Brown the parts in olive oil and put them aside. Then get your sauce ready.
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced or chopped (or more!)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup dry white wine
14 oz chicken broth
14 oz can diced tomatoes
pinch red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
The original recipe called for 1/4 cup kalamata olives pitted and slivered lengthwise. I’m sure that would have been good if I was in the mood to go to the grocery store for one ingredient. I left them out.
The rest goes pretty much as you might expect. Saute the onions until soft and light brown (about 15 mins). Add the garlic, tomato paste and flour, stir to incorporate until fragrant. Raise heat to high. Add wine, broth, tomatoes, pepper flakes, bay leaves and rosemary and stir. Add the rabbit pieces back to the saucce EXECPT the loin pieces and bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Add the two loin pieces and cook another 10 minutes.
Transfer the rabbit pieces to a plate. Bring the sauce to a simmer over a high heat. Add the liver and mash it into the sauce. I promise it won’t taste “liver-y”, it just gives the sauce some body. I used a potato masher to break it up. Cook the sauce until it thickens a bit. Here’s where you add the olives (if you’re using them) and parsley. Add the rabbit back to the sauce and reheat.
I failed to take a picture of this dish on the plate. And it may not look terrific. But, we thoroughly enjoyed it. The rabbit wasn’t the least bit pungent or gamey. Very nice, indeed.