Ragu Coniglio (Rabbit Ragu)
I took four days this week to get ahead with my curriculum planning for create a cook, it's summer mode and we do cooking classes for kids for a week at a time through the end of August, each week with a different theme. I teach the 11+ and they are in class from 9:30 - 3:30 cooking up a little storm. How I'd love to make something like this with them when we do Italian, but I would imagine the squeals of terror and the declarations of GROSS when I brought out a rabbit would be too much to bear. Ah well, maybe one day.
After pondering what I would make for dinner I remembered having a lovely D'Artagnan rabbit in the freezer upstairs. I knew without a moments hesitation that I would make a ragu with it. In fact, when I ran down the ingredients I would need in my head I knew I had almost every ingredient in house, almost. After tearing apart my pantry I realised I neglected to restock my dried porcini supply the last time I used it, don't worry, I have already placed a nice bulk order online to freeze.
Shunning the pyjamas I headed out to the local Whole Paycheck to pick up the dried shrooms and survey the fresh pasta. Sadly, the widest pasta they had on hand was linguine and the sheets of pasta looked way too thick to consider rolling and cutting so I grabbed 6 of my favourite eggs and a few other items and came home for a nice long day of cooking and writing. The picture on the top was taken when I made this a few months ago but I never took the time to write it up. Since today was a nice leisurely day with the windows open, the birds singing, the rain showers coming in and out, I decided to bite the bullet and document the beast here. The other set of pictures I took of breaking down a rabbit into useable pieces was, again, taken a very long time ago, but I include it here in case you ever need a tutorial.
For the squeamish among us, I will put the photos and recipe under the jump. so many people just can't deal with how much rabbit looks like...well..um...cat, or so I'm told.
Rabbit Ragu (Ragu Coniglio)
1 rabbit (**see photos below for visuals on how to break down the rabbit. Don't worry about being exact here, because you will be shredding the meat off the bones later, a perfect recipe to practice your butchering skills), cut into pieces.
3 ounces pancetta or guanciale, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup carrot minced
1 cup celery minced
1 cup good red wine
1 cup veal stock
1 cup veal/duck demi glace (if you have it, if not good chicken stock or more veal stock will do)
1-1/2 TBS tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz whole, peeled, plum tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano, but use whatever floats your boat like the fire roasted ones), squeezed into smaller chunks with their juices
1 ounce dried porcini, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes or more
12 - 16 ounces crimini, cleaned and sliced.
2 TBS fresh sage, minced
2 TBS fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
s&p to taste and I mean this
Soak your mushrooms in a bowl with boiling water poured over them. Place a small plate inside the bowl and a weight on top to keep them submerged. After 30 minutes or so, lift off the mushrooms, pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and reserve. Chop the porcini mushrooms rather roughly, I like the rustic bite of mushroom.
In a wide heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, render the pancetta/guanciale with a glug of olive oil. When they are nice and brown, remove the pork products to some paper towels to drain and reserve. Back in the pan, add your onions, carrot and celery. Stir well and let it sweat a bit. Nestle your rabbit pieces in amongst the mirepoix of vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook slowly browning them well and turning them occasionally.
Once all the meat is browned, remove it to a dutch oven or a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Pour half the wine in the pan with the mirepoix and scrape up all the good bits. Reduce the wine by half.
Tip this mixture into the dutch oven with the rabbit pieces, turn the heat on to medium. Add the remaining wine, veal stock, veal/duck demi glace (or chicken stock if using), tomato paste, garlic and tomatoes with their juices. Bring this up to a simmer and then put a lid on slightly ajar and cook gently for about an hour or until the rabbit is tender.
Remove the rabbit pieces to a plate to cool a bit.
Carefully put the ingredients left in the dutch oven into a bowl or a measuring jug and let it settle for 15 minutes - 20 minutes. Any fat you may want to remove will rise to the top. Scoop it off and pour the rest into the food processor and pulse a few times to break everything down and smooth out the sauce a bit. Tip this mixture back into the dutch oven.
Remove the meat from the bones.
In a frying pan with a small amount of olive oil, saute the sliced crimini mushrooms. Sprinkle with some salt and cook them until the exuded liquid comes out of the mushrooms and reduces. When the mushrooms begin to brown, add them to the dutch oven.
Add the porcini mushrooms to the dutch oven. Bring the heat back up to a gentle simmer cooking for about 15 minutes or so. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Really taste it, add a bit more seasonings, taste it again. This is the critical step that so many forget. Add back the reserved rabbit meat, rendered pieces of pancetta or guanciale, minced sage and parsley and stir. Once everything is heated through, taste it again and adjust the seasonings.
Here is where I usually shut it off and let it sit for a couple hours or overnight for everything to really come together but trust me here, you could scoop this straight on to some nice freshly made pasta, preferably tagliatelle (skip for paleo primal) and call it the best thing you have ever had.
Those were husband's exact words and trust me people that has taken many, many years of training to even get him to eat outside his comfort zone. Try it sometime, you might just learn to love something new.
**Breaking down your rabbit. If you have ever broken down a chicken, you will find this easy. Just be careful when working near the spine, rabbits have tiny bones and one wrong whack with the knife and you'll be fishing tiny bones out of your dish.