This post comes with an advisory notice and full disclosure; I really had no intention of offending anyone (or even intentionally having a mischievous chuckle) undertaking this dish on Saturday night.
I was cheerfully unaware of committing any festive faux pas… until it was pointed out to me the irony of cooking a bunny over Easter.
So forgive me for the rather comical coincidence (oh come on, it’s pretty funny) and let’s instead focus on the merits.
Rabbit is such a beautiful, delicate meat and suited perfectly for long, slow cooking because it’s such a lean protein.
Slow braised until meltingly tender and infused with notes of porcini mushrooms and white wine, this version is an excellent take on a traditional ragu – but with an indulgent twist.
Dollops of that AMAZING gorgonzola mascarpone spooned generously over the top, slowly melt through the layers of ragu and pasta ribbons, lending just the right hint of blue cheese to lift this otherwise humble pasta dish to lofty heights.
In fact I’d go so far to say that this dish wholeheartedly celebrates the rather under appreciated rabbit, actually making concurrent holiday celebrations quite appropriate…
All hail the bunny!
braised rabbit ragu with pappardelle
& blue cheese mascarpone
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced,
2 gloves garlic, crushed
6 tomatoes, diced
1 celery stick, diced
250ml white wine
1 rabbit, cut into braising pieces
1 fresh sprig each of sage, thyme and rosemary
1 cup chicken stock
20g porcini mushrooms, soaked in a cup of warm water
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small knob butter
½ cup tomato passata
50g gorgonzola, chopped
fresh sage leaves
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat.
Add the chopped onions, carrot and celery, and sauté until golden and beginning to soften.
Add the white wine to the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by half.
In a large, heavy-based casserole pot, heat a good glug of olive oil over high heat. Once hot, add the rabbit pieces and brown to seal on each side.
Pour over the wine, onions, garlic, tomatoes, herbs and chicken stock.
Cover and place in the oven and cook for 2 – 3 hours, until the rabbit meat falls off the leg bone.
Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Carefully separate the meat from the bones (ensuring you don’t overlook any of the smaller, finer ones), shred and reserve for the pasta sauce.
Strain the cooking liquid from the remaining braising vegetables and set aside.
For the pasta sauce, heat a knob of butter and some olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. The olive oil will help to prevent the butter from burning, whilst the butter serves to provide flavour.
Chop the soaked porcini mushrooms and add to the saucepan with the finely chopped onion and garlic, frying lightly until golden.
Add the tomato passata and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour in the braising liquid and shredded rabbit meat, and simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce has reduced to your desired consistency. Taste and season accordingly.
Just before you’re ready to serve, cook the pappardelle in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente and carefully toss through the rabbit sauce.
Mix together the mascarpone and blue cheese until evenly incorporated and place a large dollop on top of each pasta serving.
Garnish with fresh sage leaves and serve immediately.