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Pappardelle with Rabbit, Mushrooms, and Wine

Pappardelle con Coniglio, Funghi, e Vino

SERVES 4

Golden, wide ribbons of noodles known as pappardelle claim Tuscany as home and were originally made to accompany wild duck because woodsmen working in the marshy area of Tuscany known as the Maremma found ducks easy to come by.

Boccaccio described pappardelle as lasagne made two inches thick and cooked in broth and seasoned with meat, especially wild hare. It is also com­monly served with wild boar. Pappardelle are easily made from the basic pasta dough recipe on page 9, or can be found on some grocery store shelves.

Domestic rabbit is used in this recipe and slowly cooked in the oven in a wine-and-mushroom sauce. Cook the rabbit in the sauce a day ahead to save time if you are making homemade pappardelle.

Ingredients

1/4 cup (½ stick) butter

1 pound mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and caps thinly sliced

1 cup dry red wine

½ cup King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Grinding of cracked black pepper

4 pounds cut-up rabbit, washed and dried

2 tablespoons

4 ounces pancetta, diced

1 medium-size red onion, diced

½ pound fennel, bulb only, washed, sliced, and cut into strips

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound homemade pappardelle or store-bought

Directions

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12 x 3-inch-deep) ovenproof sauté pan or stove-top baking dish large enough to hold all the rabbit pieces. Add the mush­rooms and cook over medium-high heat, stirring fre­quently, until they soften and begin to give off their liquid. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cook­ing until the liquid evaporates. Increase the heat to high and stir in ½ cup of the wine. Let most of the wine evap­orate. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the sauté pan with a paper towel and return to the stove top.

Mix the flour, salt, and pepper together on a dish. With your hands, dredge each rabbit piece in the flour and shake off the excess. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the olive oil in the sauté pan over medium heat and when it is hot, brown the rabbit pieces evenly. Remove the pieces to a dish as they brown.

Add the pancetta to the pan drippings and cook the bits until they begin to brown. Stir in the onion and fennel and cook until the onion softens and the fennel begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, stirring. Increase the heat to high and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup wine and the sage leaves. Turn off the heat and stir in the mushrooms with any liquid.

Preheat the oven to 3250F. Tightly cover the pan, place it in the oven, and bake until the rabbit is ten­der, about 40 minutes. Uncover the pan and stir in the vinegar. Cover and keep the pan warm while the pap­pardelle cook.

Make and cook homemade pappardelle according to the directions on page 30 or follow the directions for commercially prepared. Drain and place them on a large, deep platter. Spoon the rabbit and mushroom sauce over the pappardelle and serve immediately.

NOTE: In keeping with Tuscan tradition, I like to use a good Chianti Classico wine in the preparation.

This recipe is from MANGIA PASTA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1998.

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