There’s a Rabbit in My Pan?

Scott and I have recently discovered a new-to-us difference of opinions.  You see, we have a bit of a rabbit situation around our property.  As in, we have roughly three thousand rabbits of all ages and sizes wandering around the area.  Or maybe four dozen.  Lots, anyway.

We originally agreed that until the rabbits did anything antagonistic towards us, we would live in cautious peace.  Then one of the silly beasts made the mistake of eating from Scott’s vegetable garden while he was home.  Not smart.

From that moment, it’s been war between man and beast.  It’s hard to tell who’s winning.  I do know that the rabbit count in our freezer is increasing, but I’m guessing that the rabbit population is on the rise anyway.

So here we are, one spouse rooting for the demise of the bunny population, one cheering solidly for them to learn some manners and scamper off into the woods.

Which brings us to the recipe.

Scott wanted to use the rabbit, since that’s what you should really do with meat when it ends up in your freezer.   I was reluctant, but willing to give “local” rabbit a try.

Being a wise man, Scott decided to use a favorite cookbook to make me like his catch of the day.  He chose Rabbit Cacciatore from The Silver Spoon, the “Bible” of Italian cooking.

The Silver Spoon‘s Rabbit Cacciatore (Coniglio alla Cacciatora)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 rabbit, cut into pieces (we definitely left ours bone-in)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 pound 2 oz. tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • a pinch of all-purpose flour (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • soft polenta (recipe also in The Silver Spoon) or roasted polenta slices if you can’t find soft polenta at your store (I can attest to the validity of that substitution… yum)

Instructions

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and prosciutto and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Add the rabbit, increase the heat to medium and cook, turning frequently,  until browned all over.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the wine and add the thyme, then cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour.  If the cooking juices are too runny, thicken them by stirring in a pinch of flour.  Transfer the stew to a warm serving dish, discarding the thyme, and serve with the polenta.

Honestly, this was delicious.  Truly.  There was depth of flavor, and it tasted like a piece of Italy in our Virginia kitchen.

But…

I really struggled to enjoy our rabbit cacciatore.  All I could think about were the cute little fluffy bunnies outside.

Sigh.

photo from waitbutwhy.com

photo from waitbutwhy.com

No, most of them don’t look like that.  And Scott is not a mean person, he just wants to consume the vegetables that he carefully planted and tended.  Now it’s my job to come to terms with our new rabbit situation–the one that involves rabbit on the menu from time to time.

If you want to try this cacciatore recipe but don’t have a supply of fresh rabbit, I would recommend trying it with chicken.  It’ll still be yummy, and you won’t have to think sad thoughts about bunnies as you eat.

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