Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tagliatelle with rabbit sauce

This is vaguely inspired by the classic Tuscan hare sauce, pappardelle con il sugo di lepre. I've never managed to buy hare, so I substituted it with rabbit. Also, whenever I've tried following a recipe for this dish I've never managed to produce the velvety texture I remember from the time I ate this in Lucca. so I decided to forget about the recipes and just make it my own way, and this is what I came up with. (The original version wouldn't have either tomatoes or paprika in it.)

1 rabbit, cut into joints
3 bay leaves
olive oil
1/2 an onion, very finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 finely chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of flour

  1. Put the rabbit in a pot with the bay leaves, sprinkle over a little salt, and just cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce to minimum, and simmer for one hour until the rabbit is very tender.
  2. Remove the rabbit from the pot (reserve the cooking broth as stock and for use later in this recipe) and allow to cool. Remove all the flesh from the bones. (Discard any flaps of meat, as these are sheet muscles which tend to be a bit fibrous, but keep the liver, kidneys and heart.)
  3. Fry the onion gently in plenty of olive oil, adding the garlic towards the end. Once the onion and garlic are cooked, add the paprika, stir and fry for another 30 seconds or so. Add the tomato and cook until the sauce is quite thick.
  4. Add a good slug of olive oil, and then sprinkle the flour into the sauce, stirring well. Cook for a couple more minutes, and then gradually add a couple of ladles of the rabbit broth. (The sauce should thicken at this stage, a bit like a bechamel.) Add the rabbit meat, check for seasoning and add salt if required. Serve with tagiatelle.

Rabbit has a bit of a bad reputation, which I guess is due in part to people's reluctance to eat little furry bunnies, in part to the fact that it can be a little dry if not cooked properly, and in part to its stigmatisation as a 'poverty' food. Last Christmas a minister in the Spanish government turned herself into a bit of a laughing stock by recommending that families struggling to make ends meet could eat rabbit instead, inadvertently putting cunnilingus on Spain's festive menu.

If Picasso cooked rabbit:

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