Mama’s coniglio in umido

Silvia is my colleague, a me for Europe. Her refined elegance is a counterbalance to my awkwardness and her clarity sheds light in the chaos I often wreak. This recipe is her mother’s and translates as ‘rabbit stew’, the words are her own and the pictures are exquisite. Thank you Mama!

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Smile for the camera… Silvia and her mum

Sweet and sour stewed rabbit – My mom’s way

My mom comes from a wonderful and tough region of Italy, Sardinia.

Sardinia smells of fennel and dried salt and tastes of hospitality and hostility. Sardinian people call the rest of Italy ‘the Continent’, they only belong to themselves.

My mom comes from a small and forgotten village called Escalaplano, 2000 souls still live there and are proud of it. The region it belongs to is called ‘Barbagia’, barbarian and barbaric at the same time, notorious from the 1960s on for kidnappings. Banditry and pastoralism built the local economy. Cut ears made it famous when tourism was exploding.

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Enjoying the Sardinian summer
My Sardinia is the sticky hands of my granny after making pasta, is the dark skin of my mom, is the wild taste of lamb, the sweet of artichokes. Sardinia is my sweet and sour soul, like the rabbit my mom still cooks following my granny’s recipe (and always wearing high heels).

Scales are not part of our cooking tradition.

Music to prepare this dish to: ‘You’re the one that I want’ by the Italian cast of Grease

Ingredients

  • A jointed rabbit
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A clove of garlic
  • Half glass dry white wine
  • Half glass of white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • Green plump olives (in brine, drained)
  • A glass of chicken stock
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Pour some oil in your usual pan for stewed meat, brown the clove of garlic in it. When it’s dark, take it out and add the rabbit.
  2. Brown the rabbit for about ten minutes.
  3. Add half glass of white wine and reduce it.
  4. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar and add to the rabbit.
  5. It’s olive time. Add them and go on cooking over a low flame.
  6. Add the stock and cook slowly until you reduce the sauce (half an hour, 45 minutes, 1 hour depending on the size of the pieces).
  7. Taste the sauce and add salt, sugar or vinegar if needed.
  8. Turn the pieces of rabbit over to check them from time to time. They should be browned but still tender.
  9. Shut off the burner and add a handful of fresh chopped parsley.

Following Silvia’s suggestion of a young red wine, I went for Celler de Capçanes Vall Del Calas. Despite its age, it has a sprightly, youthful taste that goes well with the rabbit.

Preparation in 3 pictures

As Silvia has pointed out, measurements are not the way with this recipe. below are some pics from my preparation of this dish that will give you a feel for how much I felt was the right amount.

The amount of rabbit

This is what a whole jointed rabbit looks like… make sure your pan is big enough to hold it all. If you can’t find rabbit, you can use chicken thighs (skinned). I got mine from The Parson’s Nose.

jointed
One jointed rabbit from the Parson’s Nose
The amount of olives

I used pitted olives, and big ones from Spain. Here’s an indicator of the amount of olives and the size of pan you need. Mine was a little cramped. If you want to cook it for longer, at point 6 in the method you can transfer it to a slow cooker and really braise it for a few hours.

finished
Olives give it zing and the parsley at the end some freshness
What to do with the left over white wine

You only need a half glass of white wine for the recipe, so you’ll need to finish it off before serving time (when you’ll need a light red).

table

Easy, simple, effective and a real crowd pleaser…

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