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!
- 1 cup of polenta
- 6 cups of lapsang souchang tea
- olive oil
- Bring 6 cups of water to boil in a medium to large saucepan.
- Turn off heat and steep tea for 2 minutes.
- Remove tea bag and return to boil
- Whisk in polenta a little bit at a time until fully incorporated.
- Reduce heat to low and continue to stir polenta for 1 hr.
- Stir olive oil into polenta and season with salt and pepper.
- 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
- Season the rabbit with salt and pepper.
- Heat butter and olive over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven.
- Stir in rosemary branches, bay leaves, and pancetta for a couple minutes.
- 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)
- Layer the rabbit pieces and pour the wine over the rabbit.
- Bring the wine to a boil.
- Then, reduce to low heat and simmer uncovered for 90 minutes.
- Remove rabbit from wine and set aside.
- Add cloves of garlic to the wine an simmer until it reduces to a thick sauce.
- Pour sauce over rabbit.
Serve rabbit on a bed of polenta. Pair with earthy vegetable sides such as brussels sprouts, kale, mushrooms, or squash.