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Pasta with Rabbit, Mushrooms and Wine

Pappardelle con Coniglio, Funghi e Vino
Golden, wide ribbons of noodles known as pappardelle claim Tuscany as home and were originally made to accompany wild duck because woodsmen working in the marshy area of Tuscany known as the Maremma found ducks easy to come by.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 com¬monly 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.

SERVES 6 TO 8

Ingredients

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

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

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 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 Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

4 ounces pancetta, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 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 or store-bought pappardelle

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 1/2 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 325°F. Tightly cover the pan, place it in the oven, and bake until the rabbit is ten¬der, about 40 minutes. Uncover the pan and stir in the vinegar. Cover and keep the pan warm while the pappardelle cook.

Cook the pappardelle in 4 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until they are al dente.

When the pappardelle are cooked, drain and place them on a large, deep platter.  Spoon the rabbit pieces and mushroom sauce over the pappardelle and serve.

Alternately take the meat off the bone after cooking and cut it or shred it into serving size pieces and place back in the sauce and keep warm until the pappardelle are cooked.

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.

This recipe is featured on show 2122 – Classic Tuscan Dishes.

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