What’s that? You’ve never tried rabbit?
Have I got a treat for you!
Believe it or not, rabbit isn’t just reserved for Granny Clampett’s “Varmint Vittle Stew“, or the latest catch from your second cousin Bubba in the Ozarks.
My dad talks about eating rabbit a lot while he was growing up in a small Polish suburb of Chicago. When the snow was thick, and the rabbits were slower than usual, he and his brother would run after rabbits until they couldn’t run anymore. Then Dad and Uncle Richie would pick them up and my Busia would make them into dinner. Now we pay a lot of money for those grass-fed, super fresh delicacies… lol
“But does it taste gamey?”
As is with all meat that isn’t red, I could say it tastes like chicken… and it kind of does… but it’s got a little lighter flavor, with the succulence of the chicken thigh.
“But they don’t carry rabbit at my local market”
At times, rabbit may be a bit difficult to locate, depending on your geography, but with a little google searching and a few phone calls, you’ll be in luck in no time. Also, seeing that it’s fall, you may have a better chance at places like Bristol Farms and Whole Foods, as they consider rabbit a “holiday” item. Really? Holiday?
(What…does it get dredged in crushed peppermint and dipped in eggnog? yikes!)
“But how do I fix it?”
May I present for you: Cottontail Conchigliette (CON-keel-yeht-teh)
Yes, I could have called it “Rabbit Over Shell Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes“, but that sounds a bit boring, don’t you think?
3 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. good olive oil, divided
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1½ – 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Rabbit, cut into small pieces (¹)
¾ c. sweeter white wine (Gewürztraminer or Reisling)
2-3 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1-16oz. can crushed tomatoes
½ c. fresh basil, chiffonade (which is just rolling up the leaves together and slicing thin so when you unroll, there are lots of long thin strips)
½ tsp. crushed red pepper (use food chopper to grind well into a powder)
Conchigliette (Seashell-shaped pasta)
1 large Heirloom Tomato (²)
Fresh Parmesan, grated
Sauté: In a large skillet, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil at medium high heat. Add the green onions and sautè till they soften a bit. Add garlic, and stir often, so as not to burn. Once the garlic is golden, add the chopped rabbit meat and continue to sauté till it has cooked thoroughly. This should take about 4 minutes.
Sauce: Add the white wine and bring to a boil (about 3-4 minutes). Add the roma tomatoes, and the can of tomatoes; stir well. Let mixture heat up and then add the basil, red pepper, and 2 tsp. of olive oil.
Once mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. If it begins boiling, turn heat to low. Simmer about 30 minutes, and stir occasionally. You’ll notice that the sweetness of the wine balances the acidity of the romas nicely.
While the sauce is cooking, boil pasta (³) in salted water, and drain well. Make sure to time it so that is will be ready about 5 minutes after the meat should be done. That will give you time to do any last minute prep.
Season: When sauce has completed the simmer time, taste, and season with black pepper and salt.
Plating: Spoon pasta onto each serving dish; top with a large spoonful or two of the sauce. Top with freshly grated parmesan. Garnish with heirloom tomato slices.
(¹) Rabbit: If you’re cutting the meat off the bones, keep in mind this will take longer than cutting meat from a chicken.
(²) Heirloom Tomato: This is a staple at most farmers markets, and the sweet, rich taste really complements the sauce. Wait to slice until just before plating.
(³) Packaged Pasta: I find that I prefer pasta cooked about 2 minutes longer than most manufacturer’s directions. (This is totally a personal preference)
Of course you could always use chicken in this recipe, and I’m sure it would be delightful! However, take a chance on the bunny. Really. It’s seriously good.