I have been thinking about rabbit a lot lately. Glenn Close feels bad about boiling one in Fatal Attraction, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland comes out this weekend and Easter is just around the corner. This week’s New York Times article on Hip-Hop Cuisine (warning: not for the squeamish) made me think that it was time to give this other, other white meat a try.
We remembered a recipe from the New York Times Magazine that I clipped and saved in 2006. After digging it up, we set out to make Rabbit Ragu with Pappardelle. Although their recipe called for store-bought pasta, we were feeling adventurous and decided to make our own.
I called our new-to-the neighborhood butcher, Schatzie, and was delighted to discover that, yes, he does in fact carry rabbit. A note about Schatzie’s Prime Meats. After 30 years on the Upper East side of Manhattan, they have moved across Central Park and are conveniently located a few blocks from us. They have a nice supply of top-quality meat and poultry and if they don’t carry what you are looking for, they will order it. Knowledgeable, jovial, polite and welcoming, they are an awesome addition to the neighborhood and a valued resource. They don’t seem to have a website but here is a link to their address and phone.
We have so many recipes for homemade pasta, but decided to go with Mario Batali’s. Not certain if we wanted to set up the pasta machine, we tried rolling the dough by hand with a rolling pin. I do not recommend this.
After a few rolls, we determined that we would never be able to get it as thin as we would like and out came the pasta machine. We ran the dough through the machine a few times, decreasing the thickness with each pass. We then cut the pasta into 3/4 inch wide strips and dropped them into a pot of salted water for about 2 ½ minutes. Also, we halved the recipe which is why you only see two eggs in the picture. This yielded just the right amount of pappardelle for two.
The resulting rabbit ragu was rich, satisfying and perfect for a winter evening. And soooo much more interesting than chicken.
Rabbit Ragu with Pappardelle
by Randy Kennedy
- 1 rabbit (2 1/2 to 3 1/2 ), cut into 8 pieces, bone in
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 anchovy (optional)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- Pinch of red-pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup seeded, chopped San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 12 ounces pappardelle
- Pecorino Romano cheese, for grating
1. Pat the rabbit pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the oil and brown the pieces, working in batches if needed to avoid crowding. Transfer to a plate.
2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the anchovy (if you choose) and mash it until it dissolves into the oil. Add the onion, carrots and celery, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the red-pepper flakes, garlic and tomato paste, stirring for another minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine, turn the heat to high and boil to burn off the alcohol, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, bay leaves and thyme. Return the rabbit pieces to the pot, spacing them evenly so they are partly covered by the liquid. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rabbit is falling off the bone, about 2 hours. Turn the pieces at least once.
3. Turn off the heat and discard the thyme and bay leaves. Remove the rabbit from the sauce and let cool; then pull the meat from the bones. Shred some pieces and leave others large. Return the meat to the pan and simmer the sauce until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the butter, piece by piece. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pappardelle until al dente. Before draining, save a cup of the pasta water. Toss the pappardelle with the sauce over low heat, adding pasta water as necessary if the sauce is too thick. Divide among pasta bowls and top with the grated cheese.
Mario Batali’s Fresh Pasta
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 extra-large eggs
Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you incorporate the eggs, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Add more flour, in 1/2-cup increments, if the dough is too sticky. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature. Roll and form as desired.