Braised Rabbit Sauce with Pappardelle Noodles

Rabbit has a bunch of tiny bones, so I prefer braises like this to serving the pieces on a plate. The meat simmers a long time, flavoring the sauce and tenderizing the meat. Take the meat off the bone and stir it into the sauce. If you are a confident fresh-pasta maker, homemade pappardelle is a fun, rustic pasta to make. I am not, however, so I used lasagna noodles, cooked, then halved lengthwise, for my noodles. If you’d like to make your own, straightforward direction is available from giulianohazan.com/blog/homemade-pasta-recipe. I use my food processor to chop the onion, then I insert the grater disk to make quick work of the carrot and celery.
By / Photography By E. S. Bruhmann | March 01, 2011

Instructions

  1. Rinse and pat dry the rabbit. Cut into pieces and pat dry again. Set aside.
  2. If using dried mushrooms, put them in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let them soften for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Cook the bacon in the skillet until it starts to brown and some fat has been rendered. Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrot, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Set the slow cooker on high heat.
  4. Place the skillet back on the heat and add the olive oil. Heat until hot but not smoking. Add the rabbit pieces and cook on both sides for about 4 minutes each side for a quick browning — you may need to do it two batches depending on how large your skillet is. Transfer the rabbit pieces to the slow cooker.
  5. Pour the wine into the skillet. Bring the wine just to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour the wine and scraped-up bits into the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes (or sauce) and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Add about 1 teaspoon salt. Gently stir the mixture around the rabbit pieces, cover and let cook for three to four hours (or all day on low).
  6. With tongs, lift out the rabbit pieces and place in a bowl. Let cool for about 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat from the bones, shredding or cutting any large pieces into bite-size pieces. Return the meat back to the sauce, discarding the bones. (Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. The sauce is now ready to serve, or refrigerate or freeze. To use later, gently reheat it in the slow cooker or a large saucepan.
  7. When ready to serve, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well, add it to the sauce mixture and toss well to mix. Serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms (or any mixture of dried mushrooms, or about a cup of fresh sliced shiitake mushrooms)
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 2 ounces bacon or bacon ends, chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 rabbit, cut up (about 1½ pounds)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pound fresh or dried pappardelle
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