Rabbit has lean and delicate meat. While wild rabbit can have a gamy flavour, farmed rabbit does not. Unfortunately, rabbit is not a popular choice of meat in North America so accessing it can be tricky and expensive. The biggest world producers of rabbit are Italy, Spain, France and China so naturally many rabbit recipes have influences from these countries. Here is a wonderful Italian recipe for rabbit, one definitely worth trying. It comes from Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen cookbook. Everyone should try rabbit meat at least once!
3 tbsp olive oil
1 farmed rabbit, jointed into 8 pieces
Sea salt and black pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
75g pancetta, diced
1 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
250ml (1 cup) red wine
2 tbsp tomato purée
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) chicken stock
1 tbsp grainy mustard
500g fresh pappardelle or tagliatelle
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve
Heat the oil in a large, wide heavy-based pan. Season the rabbit pieces and fry them for 2 minutes on each side until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.
Add the garlic, onions, fennel and carrot to the pan. Fry over a high heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the pancetta and continue to fry until it is lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes.
Add the juniper berries, rosemary and thyme, then return the rabbit to the pan. Add wine and tomato purée and bubble until the liquid has halved. Stir in the stock, season and put the lid on. Cook for 20-30 minutes.
Take out the rabbit pieces and place on a board. When cool, remove the meat from the bones. If the sauce is very thin, simmer it until a light coating consistency. Return the rabbit to the sauce and heat through. Stir in the mustard, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for a few minutes until al dente. Drain and toss with the rabbit ragù.
Divide between plates, scatter over some parsley leaves and serve with Parmesan.