I have a rabbit recipe coming up later this month for a blogging group I belong to. So during a little internet research on the subject of rabbit butchering, I came across the following video. “Rabbit Cacciatore w/Creamy Polenta”
As soon as I watched it, nothing else was going to satisfy my hunger. It is a very simple preparation that will blow your mind. Start with a rabbit.
Cut it into the basic parts, front legs, back legs, ribs, belly, and saddle (or loin).
For this dish we will only be using the legs. Not sure what my plans are for the other parts. Any ideas?
In some olive oil, start browning all four legs that have been seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Take your time here. You want to get them browned and crispy on the outside. It will add to the flavor of the dish later on.
Remove the rabbit and replace with one diced sweet onion. Sautee while scraping the pan to dislodge the fond. This also helps keep the pan fond from burning. Take the onions to a golden caramel color.
When the onions are here, deglaze with about 2 cups of red wine. Now you will be able to scrape up any remaining pan fond. It will give the wine a brownish color. I put the rabbit back in the pan along with bay leaves, a bouquet garni of thyme and rosemary, and about a cup of chicken stock. You are not trying to cover the rabbit. Just about 1/3-1/2 covered with liquid.
I cocked a lid over the top of this and put into a 275F oven for the next 2 hours. An hour and a half in start on some creamy polenta. I like using chicken stock instead of water. I also use a whire whisk for almost the the entire 25-30 minutes of cooking. At the end, finish with some butter and finely grated parmesan. Be sure to taste for seasoning.
Into the bowl spoon some of the polenta. Over that goes a front and a rear leg and a few spoonfuls of the braising liquid.
So simple and oh so delicious.
I spoke with Mom today and she told me that this really took her back to childhood. This was a very fancy gourmet dish when she was a kid. It was a dish that my Great Grandfather would always be involved in. He would stir the polenta until you could turn the pot over and it would fall out, and if possible, sneak the wine past his wife into the braising liquid. Rural Southern Illinois provided lots of rabbits and just as many squirrels for this amazing meal brought straight from Italy. Funny how I have been drawn to this same kind of food almost instinctively.