During the latest Horecava (8-10 January) I’ve been resident chef of Bellavita, THE Italian Food & Beverage Trade Show that represents and presents the best of the made in Italy (if you’d like to have an idea of how great this fair is, take a look at the video on this page).
During this delicious 3-day food & drinks marathon I helped/translated chefs and mixologists on stage and prepared 3 of my own recipes. On day 2 I made one of my favourite Tuscan dishes, a classic that is usually prepared with hare, the pappardelle al sugo di lepre, fresh pasta with hare sauce. Because one of the producers with a stand at Bellavita (Berti from Forlimpopoli) had fantastic rabbit meat, I decided to make this Tuscan dish with rabbit and here – not hare – is the recipe.
It is clearly slow food because the cooking time should be at least 3-4 hours to make it easy to remove the meat from the bones and to add it to the sauce again in very small pieces. A bit of a bolognese sauce, but then with rabbit.
Rabbit meat always has lots of small bones, so pay attention when you put it back in the pan.
For the pappardelle I used 150 gr. plain flower, 150 gr. durum wheat flour and 3 eggs. You can of course use store-bought pappardelle or tagliatelle. The slightly wider pappardelle are the classic choice in Tuscany
Pappardelle alla toscana con sugo di coniglio
500 gr. pappardelle, fresh (or 400 gr. dry pasta)
FOR THE SAUCE:
500 gr. rabbit meat in chunks (with bone)
½ litre of red Tuscan wine + 1 glass
a handful of juniper berries
a small bunch of rosemary
a small bunch of sage
6 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2 celery sticks
2 cans of good peeled tomatoes of 400 gr. each
extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
Marinate the rabbit meat for at least a couple of hours in ½ liter of red wine with 8-10 juniper berries, 3 bay leaves, a sprig of rosemary and a couple of sage leaves. The marinade will be – unfortunately – thrown away afterwards.
Chop carrot, onion, celery and garlic. Fry the finely chopped rosemary and sage leaves in 6-8 tablespoons of olive oil for a few minutes and then add the chopped vegetables – il soffritto. Let everything cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the drained meat, 3 bay leaves and 5-6 juniper berries.
Let the meat get a light colour on all sides and then add 1 glass of red wine. Let the alcohol evaporate completely and add the peeled tomatoes, chopped into pieces.
Let the sauce simmer for at least 3-4 hours on a low heat.
When the meat is cooked, take it out of the sauce, let it cool down a bit and break it in small pieces (as much as possible without bones). Put the pieces of meat back into the sauce.
Cook the pappardelle al dente in salted boiling water, drain them and toss them with the sauce.
Serve with grated Parmigiano or Tuscan pecorino.