Saturday, March 24

Recipe: Braised Rabbit "Hunter's Style" - Coniglio alla Cacciatore

In Italian, 'alla cacciatore' just means 'of the hunter', and since not all hunters are the same, neither are the 'alla cacciatore' recipes! Most Americans associate ‘cacciatore' as a dish with a tomato base - well, not this version. Braising the rabbit in vinegar creates one of the most mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone dishes you'll try!

Rabbit (or coniglio) can be found in butchers & markets throughout Italy. It's savory, inexpensive and perfect for cooking alla cacciatora!  Rabbit is an incredibly lean white meat you must be careful not to dry it out since there is so little fat. In this recipe we braise it in diluted vinegar (acid) which breaks down the meat - leaving it tender, juicy and oh sooo succulent!  
I remember hearing that if you only had rabbit to eat to survive, you would probably die because there is not enough fat which is why I've always been surprised there hasn't been a fade-bunny diet (just like paleo or south beach, etc)!

 I'm not sure why rabbit gets such a bad rap (since recipes have been around for centuries) -maybe too many people associate it with "Bugs Bunny" or the "Easter Rabbit" or had one as a pet... I know many of you have strong feelings on eating a fluffy white rabbit - but isn't it the same as eating a fluffy white lamb or pig or any other meat for that matter? For the record I had a pet bunny as a kid named "Thunder" & have no qualms eating rabbit for dinner, in fact I love it!
Coniglio or rabbit is on many many Italian menus all across the country - from roasted, stewed, in sauces & even in the style of porchetta.  Give it a try, it's absolutely delicious especially with a side of roasted potatoes with rosemary!!

 Braised Rabbit (or Chicken) in the Style of the Hunter
Coniglio alla Cacciatore

Note: Chicken can be easily substituted)

Serves 4

1 rabbit or chicken cut in pieces (chicken will take longer to cook)
4-5 cloves of garlic whole, peeled
2-4  anchovy fillets
spoonful of capers
small handful of sage
olive oil
white wine vinegar
salt/ pepper
pinch of chopped parsley

If using rabbit soak in cold water for a couple of hours to extract any blood. Change the water once during this process.

Clean and pat dry rabbit/chicken and then season with salt and pepper.  In a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat sear rabbit/chicken in a few glugs of olive oil.   About halfway through the searing process once you have turned all the meat over, add in your sage and garlic. 

In a glass combine 1/2 cup white wine vinegar with 1/2 cup water.  Once the meat is seared, turn down the heat and add vinegar mixture to the pan.  Cover the pan with a parchment paper lid (allowing some of the liquid to cook out) and braise slowly, 30 to 50 minutes depending on the size of rabbit/chicken pieces.  Give everything a turn every 10 minutes or so.  Be sure to control pan heat and continue to add vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio as needed to keep the pan from going dry.

Once meat is tender transfer to a warm serving plate.  Remove garlic cloves from the pan  and discard (or just mush them into the pan sauce if you like.) Chop anchovy and dissolve into the pan and finally in go the capers and parsley. Check Seasoning and pour over warm meat with a drizzle of good olive oil.  Serve.

(Pairs perfectly with roasted potatoes)

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