A Spoonful of Spice

Recipes for low-sugar living + treats for special occasions

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Rustic Wine-Braised Rabbit and Polenta

During a recent dinner party, I discovered that one of my friends had never tasted rabbit and was curious. While not all people enjoy game, I love the grassy, complex flavors of these meats. This kind of rustic Italian dish satisfies some deep craving for meat that I have begun to develop in response to east coast winters. 

Growing up in LA, it never occurred to me that rabbits could be food. It was when I noticed the empty rabbit cage at my grandparents' house, for the first time, that I started asking questions. I knew those rabbits weren't exactly like the cute pet rabbits some of my friends had; they were big and stared at you with eyes that said don't touch me. The mystery surrounding these rabbit disappearances were frequent causes of speculation between me and my brother: Did it escape, did they sell it, did the dog eat it? Maybe our grandparents made rabbit stew, we'd laugh. 

But then, one day, mom matter-of-factly said, "Oh, they probably cooked it; they used to live on a farm, you know."

Alex and I looked at each other in silent horror, with the same question running through our mind: Had we unsuspectingly eaten those poor rabbits?

Share and enjoy!

A

"Fire-roasted" Polenta

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of polenta
  • 6 cups of lapsang souchang tea 
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Bring 6 cups of water to boil in a medium to large saucepan. 
  2. Turn off heat and steep tea for 2 minutes. 
  3. Remove tea bag and return to boil 
  4. Whisk in polenta a little bit at a time until fully incorporated. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir polenta for 1 hr.
  6. Stir olive oil into polenta and season with salt and pepper.

Braised Rabbit

Ingredients

  • 2 3-lb rabbits, sectioned into 8 parts
  • 1 750-ml bottle of Cotes du rhone 
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6-7 rosemary branches
  • 5 bay leaves
  • diced pancetta
  • 12 whole cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat butter and olive over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven.
  3. Stir in rosemary branches, bay leaves, and pancetta for a couple minutes. 
  4. Arrange rabbit parts in the pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until browned. (Brown meat in two batches if all the meat does not fit into the pan)
  5. Layer the rabbit pieces and pour the wine over the rabbit. 
  6. Bring the wine to a boil.
  7. Then, reduce to low heat and simmer uncovered for 90 minutes. 
  8. Remove rabbit from wine and set aside.
  9.  Add cloves of garlic to the wine an simmer until it reduces to a thick sauce. 
  10. Pour sauce over rabbit. 

Serve rabbit on a bed of polenta. Pair with earthy vegetable sides such as brussels sprouts, kale, mushrooms, or squash.