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Braised Rabbit with Cracked Olives with Melissa

2 x rabbits - (3 to 4 lbs ea)
8 x thin pancetta slices - (to 12)
Coarse salt to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
All-purpose flour for dredging
5 tbl olive oil
1 tbl unsalted butter
2 med onions coarsely chopped
2 x celery stalks coarsely chopped
3 med carrots peeled, and coarsely chopped
10 med garlic cloves sliced
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 cup dry white wine
4 cup Rabbit Stock (see below) (or homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth skimmed of fat)
2 can crushed whole peeled tomatoes - (28-oz ea)
2 cup pitted green olives in brine cracked (preferably Picholine)
4 x fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tbl chopped rosemary
2 x dried bay leaves


Handcut Linguine:
2 cup all-purpose flour plus more
2 cup semolina flour
4 lrg eggs
2 tbl water

Rabbit Stock:
Bones of 3 rabbits
2 tbl vegetable oil
2 x onions chopped
2 x carrots chopped
2 x celery stalks chopped
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 cup dry white wine
6 whl black peppercorns
2 x dried bay leaves
3 x fresh thyme sprigs
2 gal water

For the Handcut Linguine: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine both the flours and the eggs. Mix until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons water, and mix just until dough begins to form. Remove dough from mixer and knead by hand until it forms a ball. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for at 15 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into 1/16-inch-thick sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut pasta into ribbons. Use immediately; or cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place rabbit back down on cutting board. Remove any fat from the inside of the rabbit. Cut along the tailbone, keeping the knife against the bone, and detach the thigh. Repeat to cut off the second thigh, starting at the end of the tailbone. Remove liver and kidneys; discard, or save for another use. Cut through the rabbit, below the shoulder blade, to remove the foreleg. Repeat to remove the other foreleg. Turn rabbit over, and cutting along the rib bones on each side, remove loins. Repeat with remaining rabbit. Reserve bones for stock. Wrap loins from top to bottom with pancetta. Set loins aside.

For the Rabbit Stock: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place rabbit bones on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until browned, about 1 hour. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato puree, and cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown. Add wine and cook until completely evaporated. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, browned bones, and water. Bring to a boil, add thyme sprigs, and simmer until reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, at least 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Strain through a fine sieve, and discard solids. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. (Makes about 3 quarts)

Season rabbit shoulders and legs with salt and pepper and coat lightly with flour. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place legs and shoulders in pan and cook until brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from Dutch oven and set aside.

Add butter, onion, celery, and carrot, and cook stirring until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato puree and cook 3 minutes. Pour in wine and crushed tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, 12 to 14 minutes.

Add stock, browned rabbit, 1 cup olives with their brine, rosemary sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Transfer to oven and cook until fork tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove meat from sauce; set aside. Strain sauce through a medium sieve, discarding solids. Return sauce to Dutch oven. Heat sauce on stove until reduced to desired consistency, skimming fat if necessary. Remove meat from reserved shoulders, and discard bones. Return legs and shoulder meat to sauce. Chop remaining 1 cup olives and stir into sauce with chopped rosemary. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

While the sauce is reducing, heat a medium skillet over high heat, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and heat until smoking. Add rabbit loins, and cook until brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer loins to cutting board, and allow to rest for 1 minute before thinly slicing. Add linguine to boiling water, and cook until tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a serving platter. Top with sauce, and surround with slices of loin. Serve immediately.

This recipe yields 4 servings.


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