rabbit ragu

a couple of years ago i cooked my first rabbit, making a tomatoey stew. ridiculously i haven’t cooked rabbit since, despite really enjoying it both then and when i’ve eaten it in various restaurants. having seen an angela hartnett recipe for rabbit ragu i decided that it should be back on my menu.

the angela hartnett recipe slow-cooks carrot, onions and celery and then cooks the rabbit in stock. when the meat is cooked the vegetables are discarded and the meat taken off the bone. it all sounds very simple but i made some changes.

firstly i replaced the celery with fennel, which was fine. secondly, i slow cooked a whole rabbit, jointed, in the oven as i was baking something else. this was instead of just using legs and simmering them on the stove which, according to the recipe should have resulted in very tender meat which falls off the bones easily. this didn’t happen with my rabbit and it took quite a lot of effort to remove the cooked meat from the bone. i was worried the meat would be tough but amazingly it wasn’t and the ragu tasted absolutely wonderful. i added a handful of mixed wild mushrooms to the ragu which worked really well. 

i'm sharing this with reeni from the lovely blog cinnamon spice & everything nice who is hosting this week's presto pasta nights, the last one of 2009.

rabbit tagliatelle* serves 4

500g tagliatelle

4 rabbit legs or 1 whole rabbit, jointed

50ml olive oil

knob of butter

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ a bulb if fennel, finely chopped (or 1 celery stick)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon tomato purée

½ glass white wine

250ml chicken or vegetable stock

a large handful of wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated parmesan, to serve

season the rabbit. heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, add the rabbit and brown on all sides. remove the meat from the pan, add the vegetables, garlic and herbs and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until evenly coloured.

return the rabbit to the pan and add the tomato purée. cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and turn up the heat to bubble then reduce. pour over enough stock to cover, then place a cartouche (circle of baking parchment) on top and cook on a low simmer until the meat comes away easily from the bones. this will take about 45 minutes.

remove the rabbit and set aside until cool enough to handle. lightly shred the meat into small pieces. discard the bones. strain the stock, discarding the vegetables, and return to a clean pan. add the rabbit pieces to the stock and place over a medium heat. simmer until reduced and thick. add the mushrooms, cover and cook for a minute or so, until the mushrooms are tender

cook the tagliatelle, drain and toss with the rabbit and mushroom ragu. serve with freshly grated parmesan.

*based on an angela hartnett recipe