Thursday, 1 January 2009

Rabbit Ragu

I've had rabbit in restaurants, and always enjoyed it, but this was my first ever attempt at cooking it. I used the recipe for Rabbit Ragu from Epicurious, and followed it pretty exactly. I used more carrot than called for, omitted the butter and reduced the amount of oil, used dried herbs including a bay leaf, replaced the onion with shallots, added more tomato, and puréed about half of the sauce. Also I just used a good-quality but regular bacon, not pancetta. And I doubled the recipe, as there were 8 of us. Well, for me that's about as pretty exactly as it gets.

Also, one can only snicker at their injunction to use "1 (3-lb) rabbit, boned by butcher and meat cut into 1-inch pieces (1 1/2 lb boned)". Good luck with that. Hereabouts, you will take your rabbit whole or not at all. It is not the easiest thing to find, although I know you can get it fresh at the Kitchener Farmers Market. Frequently, it will be frozen, but they are small enough they should thaw out in 24 hours in the fridge. I jointed mine, sautéd the pieces a fair bit longer than called for, then stewed them with the bones in. I made the ragu a day ahead, and the next morning I boned the rabbit pieces and returned the meat to the ragu. This was surprisingly quick; I did two rabbits, and the whole process took about 20 minutes.

There was a reasonable amount left over, which I added to some of my canned tomato sauce from the summer; an excellent combination.

4 servings
2 hours - 1 hour prep time

Rabbit Ragu
1 rabbit, 1.5 kilograms (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
125 grams lean bacon
4 medium shallots
2 medium carrots
1 stalk of celery
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon whole rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse gray sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
3 to 4 cups crushed tomatoes

Thaw the rabbit overnight, if frozen. Remove the liver and kidneys (if included) and use 'em for something else; I have no suggestions, sorry. Cut the rabbit into sections - I cut off all the legs, and then cut the torso in half. Rabbits are small boned, and it was easy to do this. I also cut open the rib-cage, but I'm not sure that was particularly helpful.

Chop the bacon finely.

Peel the shallots and carrot. Dice the carrot, shallots and celery.

Sauté the bacon in a large skillet until the pan is nicely oil and the bacon lightly crisped. Add the rabbit pieces and sauté until lightly browned on each side. When you turn them, add the prepared vegetables and the seasonings, and sauté them as well. Add the olive oil as needed - there should be enough to keep things generously lubricated but not swimming.

If your skillet is big enough, I suppose you can just keep going in it. I found it easier to remove everything to a large stew pot at this point. Add the wine and the tomatoes. Simmer the stew gently for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Let the stew cool enough to refrigerate, and refrigerate overnight (or for several hours at least.)

Pick out the rabbit pieces, and remove the meat from the bones. Nothing like fingers for this. While the meat was out of the sauce, I also puréed about half of it, which I think was a good idea. It made the carrots less prominent and the sauce saucier. Once that's done, add the now boneless meat shreds back into the sauce.

Whenever you are ready to eat, the ragu has only to be reheated. It's traditionally served with pappardelle, or polenta, but I served good old mashed potatoes. I bet it would be great with Clapshot.


Jedidja said...

Looking forward to trying this :)

Ferdzy said...

If you do, I'd love to hear how it turns out!