Rabbit is very lean meat. It's so lean that it can kill you through rabbit starvation, a rare form of protein toxicity that sometimes kills isolated explorers who run out of vegetables and fat and have only very lean meat to eat for extended periods. There is no danger from rabbit if eaten with vegetables, fat and carbohydrates though, so no need to fear this pasta. But rabbit starvation is good to keep in mind if you're planning an arctic expedition or post-apocalyptic survival bunker. Preppers take note.
Even though it is so lean, it can be very tender if you cook it slowly. Farmed rabbit is very mild meat and it goes well with bright, sour, salty flavours. This ragout has similar flavours to puttanesca: tomatoes, olives, capers and lots of garlic, but it's cooked very slowly. I like to put in some of the olives and capers right near the end of cooking to give both slow cooked and fresher versions of their flavours to the sauce.
- one whole rabbit, cut into pieces (ask your butcher to cut it, or follow these instructions)
- one pound of tomatoes chopped (fresh, canned or frozen are fine)
- one cup chicken stock
- olive or vegetable oil
- one cup green olives, divided
- 2 tbs capers, divided
- one whole bulb of garlic, peeled and smashed
- one large yellow onion, chopped
- a bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
- a generous amount of homemade or dry pasta
In a large dutch oven on medium heat, sear the rabbit pieces with a little oil, browning on all sides. Remove the rabbit and set aside. Sauté the garlic and onions until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften.
Return the rabbit to the pot. Add the stock, half the olives and half the capers. Increase the heat until the liquid simmers vigorously and then reduce to medium low. Cook on low until rabbit is very tender and falling off the bone, around 1.5-2hrs. Remove pan from heat. Remove rabbit pieces, shred the meat off the bone and return it to the pan. Add the remaining olives and capers. Serve over fresh papparedelle, made from super rich pasta dough like this one from smitten kitchen or over any other pasta you like. Sprinkle over lots of fresh parsley.
Photos by Tyrel Hiebert