Today’s recipe might be a bit controversial. For several cultures, rabbit is a pet, thus non suitable for cooking. Others cannot eat it for different reasons, including religion. However, in the whole basin of the Mediterranean sea, rabbit is used in several dishes and in some cases it even represents the flagship recipe of the Country such as for Malta, where rabbit (fenek, in Maltese) is at the base of the local cuisine. Don’t forget about the Spanish Paella, whose original recipe, born outside the city of Valencia in the area of the Albufera swamp, is made with rice and rabbit (no fish). In southern France one of the most popular recipes is Rabbit a la Provencale (with local aromatic herbs). Here in Italy rabbit is pretty well used, especially in the north of the Country.
Although I am personally omnivore, I do no eat much meat and in most of the cases I do only eat “white meats” such as chicken and turkey, with some exception when the recipe I am making commands to use red meat. Rabbit is one of my favourite meat because of the delicacy of it’s taste, the absense of saturated fats and the very savoury results of every recipe made with it.
Today I am presenting a recipe that is traditional of the Piedmont Region, where I live, which is called “Tonno di Coniglio” (literally: Rabbit Tuna). There is no Tuna fish at all in the recipe but the procedure to make it is the same that is used to preserve tuna fish in those cans you buy at the supermarket. For such a reason, Tonno di Coniglio can be consummed immediately after preparation or stored in sterile glass bowls for a while and eaten later. I am presenting you the cook and eat version as the second would take a too long post
The procedure is simple but it takes a while as you have to let the cooked rabbit rest overnight, thus if you plan to make it I would recommend you to do it on a saturday afternoon and have it on sunday for lucnh.
Tonno di Coniglio
Ingredients: (serve 4 to 6 people)
- 1 full rabbit (without the head and the entrails – ask your butcher to clean it for you)
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 big bunch of sage
- 2 cloves (only two – no more than that)
- 1 bunch of rosmary
- a pinch of thyme
- 2.5 liters of water
- 1 garlic clove
- olive oil (as much as needed)
- salt to taste
First of all we have to make a good and aromatic vegetable broth: take a big pot and fill it with at least 2.5 liters of water. Using a twine tie together a generous bunch of sage and rosmary and put it in the water. Add 2 cloves, a pinch of thyme and the cleaned vegetables: peeled onion, peeled carrot and 2 well washed celery sticks. Bring the pot to the fire and turn it on at medium level.
When the broth starts to boil, your kitchen will be invaded by a very pleasant aroma given by the herbs. Let it boil for approximately 10 minutes and enjoy the perfume, then, turn off the fire, remove the vegetable and the herbs from the broth, using a colander, and take them aside for later.
Put the full rabbit in the broth, bring the pot to fire again and turn it on at minimum level. Let the rabbit cook for at least 1 hour. It will make it meat very tender and perfumed.
After 1 hour turn off the fire, take the rabbit out of the pot and put in a big bowl. Filter the broth using a colander and pour it, still warm, over the rabbit, in the bowl. Now wait for approxmately 2 hours until it all cools down (2 hours is enough).
When the rabbit and the broth are cold, take the rabbit out of the pot and bring it to a clean working surface. Now, rip the meat in a way to break the fibres and obtain soft and long stripes of meat. When you have completed the process put the meat aside, take the boiled carrot you have used to make the broth and cut it into small dice, then take them aside. Peel 1 garlic clove and cut it into small pieces and put them aside.
Now take a big bowl, 1 bottle of olive oil, the meat, the diced carrot, some sage leaves and the garlic.
Pour olive oil generously into the bowl, add half of the garlic and some sage leaves. Now add a handful of the ripped rabbit meat + half of the diced carrot and press the whole thing with a spoon to immerse it in the olive oil. Make another layer with garlic, some more sage leaves and the cover again the rabbit meat and the carrots and add more olive oil. (Make as many layers as you need based on the size of your bowl and the quanty of meat your have).
Cover with a film and let it rest in the fridge for a coupe of hours. Take it out at least 30 minutes before serving.