Rabbit Cacciatore or Italian hunter’s stew is another recipe that I originally found in the Williams Sonoma catalog more than 20 yrs ago. And I have been making it ever since.
serves: 6-8 difficulty: medium prep time: 3 hrs
- 1 rabbit butchered into 6-8 pieces
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 5 medium carrots, finely diced
- 3 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 1 bunch of fresh oregano, stems removed, leaves minced
- 1 can (10 oz) tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 bottle (cheap) white wine
- 1/2 cup dried mushrooms
- 1/2 lbs fresh mushrooms. Any of these or a mixture would do: porcini, oysters, chanterelles, or shiitake.
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Ideally you ask the butcher to do the dirty work for your, and cut the rabbit in 6-8 pieces. But cooking in Bulgaria for my parents, I had to start with the whole animal, two of them to be precise.
Cut out the hind legs first. Then remove the front legs. Remove and discard the heads. Cut the torso in two crosswise. Cut out the meat on either side of the backbone, and on the outer side of the ribs. Reserve all the bones. Tie the bones with a kitchen twine in a bundle. They will be used during the cooking because bones give the sauce a lot of flavor.
Finely dice the onion, celery and carrots. Mince the garlic.
Heat a frying pan, add the olive oil, and once it shimmers, add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Sautee until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato puree and the oregano. Keep sautéing for another 5 min. Add the chicken stock and the white wine, and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan, and add the vegetable oil. Once it shimmers, add a few pieces of the rabbit without overcrowding the pan. Brown the rabbit pieces on all sides – about 3 min per side. Remove from the pan, and repeat with the remaining pieces.
Place the dried mushrooms in cheesecloth, and tie with kitchen twine.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 200 degrees Celsius.
Arrange the rabbit meat, including the bundled bones, in a Bulgarian clay pot of Dutch oven. Add the cheesecloth pouch with the dried mushrooms.
Add the boiling sauce to the pot. Put in the oven, and braise for 2.5 hrs, until the meat is falling off the bones.
Remove from the oven, and carefully remove the bundled bones, and the cheesecloth pouch with the dried mushrooms (which by then will be well hydrated). Discard the bones. Slice the cheesecloth pouch, take the mushrooms out of it, and put them in a food processor. Add 1 cup of the liquid from the pot. Puree the dried mushrooms with the cur of stock. You will have a very thick sauce. Add it back to the pot and very carefully stir the pot.
Heat a frying pan, and add the remaining olive oil. Once it shimmers, add the fresh mushrooms, and sautee them for 15 min until soft and caramelized.
To serve, place some of the stew in a place, top with sautéed mushrooms, and grated Parmigiano.
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