serves: 4 to 6
Every region in Italy cooks rabbit, and I love it-it is tasty, healthy, and low in fat. So in every one of my books I include a rabbit recipe.
Though a whole cut-up rabbit is traditional, I recommend rabbit legs for this delicious braise. They are worth looking for-easier to handle, more moist when cooked, and yielding a good portion of meat versus bones. (If you can't find legs, a whole rabbit, cut in serving pieces, will work fine in this recipe.) Should you have any leftovers, do what I do: shred the meat off the bones back into the sauce, and freeze. It will be a great dressing for pasta when you are late and tired and want a quick, delicious meal.
3 ounces pancetta, thickly sliced, or prosciutto ends
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh sage leaves, (6 to 8 large leaves)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 bone-in rabbit legs or a whole rabbit, about 3 1/2 pounds, cut into serving pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
½ cup chicken broth, or water
1 pound cipolline onions, peeled
2 tablespoons small capers, drained
You will need a food processor; a deep skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter, with a cover.
Using a food processor, mince the pancetta, garlic, sage, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a fine-textured pestata.
Pour the remaining olive oil into the skillet, set it over medium-high heat, and scrape in the pestata. Cook and stir until the pestata has dried and just begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, put the rabbit legs (or cut pieces) in a big bowl, season all over with the salt, then sprinkle the flour over them and toss to coat the legs evenly.
Lay the legs or pieces in the pan in one layer, reduce the heat, and cover the pan. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, allowing the meat to give up its juices and brown very slowly, until the legs are lightly colored on one side. Flip them over, cover the skillet, and slowly brown the second side, another 10 minutes or so.
Stir together the wine, vinegar, and chicken broth or water, and pour into skillet, swirling to blend the liquid and meat juices. Turn up the heat a bit, drop the cippoline into the spaces between rabbit pieces, scatter the capers in the pan, and bring the braising liquid to a simmer. Cover, and cook gently about 30 minutes, or until the rabbit is tender and the braising liquid has thickened. Uncover, and cook to reduce the pan juices to a thick glaze, turning and tumbling the legs and onions to coat them all over.
Serve the rabbit legs and cippoline right from the skillet, or heap them on a platter or in a shallow serving bowl. Spoon out any sauce and capers left in the pan, and drizzle over the rabbit.