For some time my son had been begging me to make Coniglio Brasato, or braised rabbit. This is a classic Tuscan dish and is so simple to prepare. What follows is mostly a photo essay at each stage of the preparation. Look away now if you risk hunger!
2 rabbits, cut into pieces
1 large bottle San Marzano Passata
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
6 large basil leaves
6 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 small package crimini mushrooms
2 packages potato gnocchi (I used DeCecco this time)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Red wine to deglaze
Start by patting dry the rabbit pieces and browning the meat. Work in batches and don't crowd the pan. Take time to get some nice color on the meat. Season with salt and pepper as you brown the pieces.
|~ This is the second batch as you can see the color already building in the pot ~|
|~ Shot of the cooktop with most of the Rabbit Browned and set aside ~|
Once you're done browning the meat, set them aside and start the base of your braise. Toss in the chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper and saute. The onions will start to pick up some color off the bottom of the pan. Take time to let them soften. Add your basil leaves in for a minute or so just before deglazing.
|~ The Base just before deglazing. This is flavor you can see! All that color came right off the pan. ~|
Deglaze the pan with about a 1/4 cup of red wine and be sure to scrape up all the brown bits and pieces on the bottom. That is intensely flavorful. When that's done, simmer to burn off the alcohol, add the San Marzano Passata, the chopped rosemary and the mushrooms. Return the rabbit pieces to the pot, add another 1/4 cup of red wine, cover and simmer on low for 4-5 hours or until the rabbit is fork tender. Once it starts falling off the bone, you're done. Not all pieces will fall apart - I wanted the legs and thighs to stay whole this time.
|~ This is the finished rabbit on a platter - but we weren't done yet! ~|
As I mentioned, some of the rabbit meat falls off, some doesnt. What's left in the pot is an amazingly flavorful rabbit ragu that would be amazing on pasta or in this case, gnocchi! I used two packages of potato gnocchi. Cook according to the package instructions and drain into the pot with the ragu. This alone could be an entree.
|~ The remaining ragu in the pot. Rabbit meat and Mushrooms. Pick out any large bones that may remain. ~|
|~ The gnocchi and the ragu in a serving bowl - piping hot ~|
|~ The Chef's Plate ~|
This was a huge hit, even among those with slight trepidation about rabbit. The best part is, there are plenty of leftovers and when pairing a red wine with this meal, you can't really go wrong. We chose a 2007 Brunello that I will review later this week. However, I can't think of a Tuscan red that wouldn't go well with this dish: Chianti Classico, Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile, Carmignano, take your pick!