Braised rabbit with papardelle

I like small game meat. For me personally, I find my body can really transform the meat of a smaller animal and turn it into energy easier than a larger animal. Maybe that has something to do with me being a vegetarian for so long, I dunno…

Rabbit is a mainstay in the diet of europeans but not so much here in the USofA. In fact many people I know here have not tried it. or think it bizarre or sad to eat such a cute and fluffy creature..aaah. I was raised partly by my family in Italy and that is where I found a great passion for food (fluffy bunnies included) and life “la dolce vita”!

All over Italy people know where their food comes from, usually a local farmer, butcher, baker and then they trade or buy the daily meal staples and create from there. We ate rabbit quite a bit and it is DElicious let me tell you! Reminiscent of chicken in a way but more hearty, you can prepare it much the same way as chicken in many  of your known recipes. An incredible high protein lean meat not adulterated as much a s chicken has become.

During my teens and much of my twenties I was vegetarian (to the dismay of my family) and I went without for years but now I do eat meat as medicine and I crave the foods of my youth. Rabbit being one of them.

Here is a recipe I made the other night and family and friends loved it. Some of whom had never tried it and scoffed at first. Rabbit is for the most part a sustainably farmed animal and also hunted generally in the spring. Go to your local butcher or farmer and get yourself one approx 2-3lb “Fryer” (young rabbit) for this recipe.

start with fresh local ingredients

I used vegetables that are in season and this dish is mutable according to what is available. I usually brine poultry and small game in sea salt and water for about three hours, this makes the meat super tender and tasty. Rinse and dry completely after removing from brine. Remove organs for later use. My husband and son love the heart, liver and loin for an appetizer. Gather ingredients:

2 1/2 -3 lb “fryer” rabbit

1 Parsnip cubed

1 large or 2 small onions

1 basket of crimini mushrooms or what is available

4 carrots cubed

4 russet potatoes cubed

1/2 bulb fennel “finochio” and some greens

2 bay leaves, 1tsp Thyme, Sage and Rosemary

3 cups dry white wine

Cut the legs and loin from the body of the rabbit, following the contour of the bones. Separate the ribs from the spine as well, this makes handling easier. The loin can be cooked at a different time with the organ meats ( pan seared) if desired (they cook much quicker) and can be served as appetizer or added to finished dish.  Brown legs and ribs in medium hot pan with olive oil or butter and herbs.  In a caserol pot or another pan big enough to fit everything, saute the onions until semi-translucent, add mushrooms, than all other veggies saute for a few min. Add rabbit, wine and and 1 cup stock or water with herbs and a pinch of salt.

braise covered for aprox 40 min

Cook on med/low heat for 35-45 min. Prepare pasta, rice, pilaf, polenta, salad or any other accompaniment you might enjoy and BUON APPETITO!