Friday, May 21, 2010

Coniglio alla Sanremasca (Ligurian Rabbit Recipe – Sanremo Style)

This is a typical Ligurian recipe. Water or clear broth is more commonly used rather than wine. Vermentino wine is used only in western Liguria. According to Samuele, there are two different schools regarding what kind of wine should be used: Vermentino (white) or Rossese of Dolceacqua (a young red wine similar to the Pinot Noir). This recipe is known as "Coniglio alla Sanremasca" (Sanremo-style Rabbit) and is very well-known in the Riviera di Ponente (western Ligurian Riviera). I used a dry white Spanish table wine in my first attempt, but will be experimenting with other dry whites in the future. Since we're talking about reducing half a liter of white wine, the taste of the wine isn't a hidden flavor but comes to the fore in this recipe.

Last but not least, fresh thyme is mandatory for this recipe, and more important than rosemary, as these herbs grow wild in the Sanremo hillside and are used abundantly in local cuisine.

Does this look right, Samuele?

Coniglio alla Sanremasca (Ligurian Rabbit Recipe – Sanremo Style)

Start: 15:30

End: 18:00

Total Cooking Time: 2.5 hours


Serves 2- 3

1 - 1/2 Rabbit

1/2 Medium Sized White Onion

1 Rib of Celery

1 Carrot

2 Big Cloves of Garlic (Do not peel!)

2 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary

3-4 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

600 ml Vermentino Wine* or Dry White Wine

2 Tbsps Small Dark Taggiasca Olives**

1 Tbsp Pine Nuts

1 Glass of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferably made from Taggiasca olives too)

2 Big Potatoes (Roasted in Foil)

1 Cup Home Made Beef Broth (Optional)***

Serve with: Diced Roasted Potatoes Flavored with Rosemary, Garlic, Salt & White Wine.

*Preferably from West Liguria or Sardinia. However a dry white wine should work.

**Olives should be small and sweet. They should be the kind that you find preserved in brine and not the oil cured type. Samuele says he uses about 25 olives which is much more than 2 Tbsps. I used 25 olives in mine.

***If you don’t have home made beef broth, use more wine. Commercial bouillon cubes will ruin the delicate harmony of flavors.

Step 1: Ask your butcher to chop the rabbit up into 8- 10 pieces and cook half or it or however much will fit into your clay pot. I am assuming most of you will not have the courage to do this yourself….or you might not have the kind of knife that can do this. Remember to ‘save the liver’ (I am quoting Dan Aykroyd impersonating Julia Childs here)!

Step 2: Braise the rabbit pieces over high heat in a non-stick frying pan for about 10 minutes. The objective here is to cauterize the meat on the outside to seal some of the juices in whilst getting rid of any excess meat juices. The meat should look somewhat ‘compact’ when they’re done.

Step 3: In a food processor, mince the onion, celery and carrot...or chop it up manually like I did.

Step 4: I was told to smash the garlic cloves (still in their skin) with my fist, but I did it with the sides of a knife because I have small delicate hands. If you have nice big fists, by all means please do this with your own fist.

Step 5: Put the extra virgin olive oil with the rabbit meat, onion, celery, carrots and garlic, in a clay pot and braise them on your stove top. I’m guessing that unlike in the first stage where you need to seal the meat juices in, we want to do this now over a slightly slower fire. However, do not lower the heat yet. Keep the heat reasonably high until the morsels of rabbit are golden brown. While the rabbit meat is browning, chop up the rosemary and thyme finely.

Step 6: Lower the Heat. Remove the garlic and add the rosemary and thyme as well as the dry white wine and the liver. Add some salt, cover the clay pot and keep it simmering for about 40 minutes, slowly turning the meat sometimes.

Step 7: Add the pine nuts and olives. Continue simmering and turning the meat for awhile. If the white wine has evaporated you should add some home made beef broth. If not, add more white wine.

Step 8: Remove the liver, chop it up and then return to the clay pot. You won’t be covering the terrine or frying pan after this point and you will be continuously stirring it so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the clay pot until all the wine has evaporated and there is a nice glaze on the meat.

Step 9: Remove from heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes before you serve it with some diced roasted potatoes flavored with salt, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and white wine.****

****Peel and cut the potatoes and dice them up. Toss them in extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, pieces of garlic with their skin on and crushed, and put them in a casserole lined with oven paper. The temperature depends on how crispy you want them, but I prefer to cook mine at 250C for 45-60 minutes. After roasting the potatoes for 30 minutes add some dry white wine (the same one you’ve used to cook your rabbit) and then roast them for another 30 minutes or until they look right to you. For more tender potatoes reduce the cooking time to 30-40 minutes. Add the wine after 15-20 minutes. For crispier potatoes I suggest you cook them for a full 60 minutes.

This was my first try and I can’t say I’m 100% happy with the results, but I can say wholeheartedly that it tasted very nice even though I haven't mastered this recipe yet.

A few notes...

First of all, this takes 2.5 hours to prepare so don't start roasting your potatoes until the rabbit is simmering gently inside your clay pot. You can even start preheating the oven at this point and the potatoes will be done well before the rabbit is.

I used half a rabbit as a whole rabbit would not fit into my clay pot. If one person isn't a big eater, half a rabbit will be enough for two people. The recipe will work for a whole rabbit.

I also needed to get the clay pot heated up slowly as I was cauterizing the rabbit in the frying pan. You need to heat these things up slowly or they can crack!

I threw all the ingredients into the clay pot carelessly, but I think it would be better to braise the onion, carrot, celery mixture first, and then add the pieces of rabbit and garlic to the clay pot.

I used 600 ml wine which was a little too much. It took a long time to let it evaporate and glaze over. Adjust the amount of white wine you use depending on the size of your clay pot. There should be enough to keep the rabbit simmering but there is no need to cover the rabbit with white wine. Samuele's original recipe says the cooking time is about 1 hour. I really used too much wine.


Jhonny walker said...

Rabbit! I have never had it..but I would work wonder with Lamb or goat...?

Lori said...

Very fresh and inviting. How as it? Did you like it? I need to get daring and try rabbit.

Taste of Beirut said...

I have been meaning to cook with rabbit for a while now; glad you didi it! Your recipe looks fabulous~ingrati

pigpigscorner said...

Looks and sounds really flavourful! I wonder if I can get rabbit here!

ann low said...

How come I missed this post? Sounds so flavorful.

Dewi said...

I love rabbit, but my family will never ate it. They think rabbit as a pet. I am drooling looking at your dish.