Yesterday the New York Times ran an article about cooking with rabbit. A very cute bunny was shown on the cover of the Dining In section and what followed was a series of recipes which used rabbit. There was also a part of the article that spoke about how to kill a rabbit and a school where people are taught that skill. Being somewhat hypocritical, I won’t eat cute animals and Rabbit because it reminds me of my cat. Hypocritical, I say, because I eat other cute animals. That said, I seem to be in the minority these days.
Italians have been raising and eating rabbits (coniglio) since time immemorial. Rabbits are a year round food as well and dishes range from summer delights to winter stews. Rabbit is also prevalent throughout the country.
Here’s a recipe from About.com’s Kyle Philips who has been writing about Italian food and wine for years.
* 1 rabbit
* 3/4 cup (100 g) black olives packed in brine, ideally Ligurian
* A small onion, finely sliced
* A rib celery, about 4 inches (10 cm) long, minced
* The needles from a sprig of rosemary, chopped
* A bay leaf, crumbled
* A sprig of thyme, chopped
* 5-6 walnut meats, ground
* 1/2 cup (125 ml) excellent red wine
* One dozen zucchino blossoms
* An egg
* 1 cup (110 g) flour
* 1/2 cup beer
* Olive oil
* Salt and pepper to taste
* Oil for deep fat frying
When you buy the rabbit, have the butcher sever its head, split it, and give it to you separately, along with its liver. Come time to prepare the dish, wash and pat dry the rabbit, and cut it into pieces.
Pour 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a terracotta casserole, and sauté the onion and celery with the herbs. When the onion has browned lightly, add the rabbit and cook over a brisk flame. When the meat has browned, stir in the nutmeats and the wine, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, boil the rabbit head and liver (after carefully removing the gall bladder) in lightly salted water for about 20 minutes. Once the meat has boiled, pick all the flesh from the head of the rabbit (reserve the broth), grind it with the liver, and stir the paste into the casserole with the rabbit.
Continue simmering the rabbit for another hour, adding rabbit broth to it as necessary to keep it from drying out; keep in mind that the sauce should be abundant and fairly thick. When the rabbit is half done, drain the olives and stir them in.Meanwhile, make a batter with the egg, flour, beer, and a pinch of salt. Carefully wash the zucchino blossoms and pat them dry, then dip them in the batter and fry them in hot oil until they are golden brown. Serve the rabbit with its sauce, and the fried blossoms on the side.