Of all the methods for preparing rabbit, this dish is one of my favorites. The piquant olives & touch of tomato contrast deliciously with the rich rabbit meat. I like to serve it Tuscan-style – with Polenta (plus a crisp salad of mixed greens).
Braised Rabbit with Olives & Polenta
One 2½ lb. rabbit
2 fl. oz. olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
good pinch of rosemary needles
8 fl. oz. chicken stock
4 fl. oz. dry white wine
1 Tbsp tomato paste
½ cup pitted green olives
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Wipe rabbit with damp cloth. If whole, cut rabbit into 6-8 serving pieces. Wipe dry.
In large heavy saucepan over med-high flame, heat oil; brown rabbit on all sides for about 12 minutes. As rabbit finishes browning, add onion & garlic to pan, and color briefly. Add rosemary, stock, wine, and tomato paste over low flame. Rinse olives in boiling water; add to rabbit. Season. (Because of the saltiness of the olives, this dish nedds very little additional salt.)
Cover and continue cooking over low heat, turning rabbit periodically, until pieces are tender – about 25 minutes.
Polenta, the traditional “starch” for rabbit dishes in Northern Italy, is a marvelous foil for the rich sauce. Since polenta requires 20 minutes of constant stirring, you may want to arrange for strong & patient assistants before you begin But oh, everyone will be rewarded amply at the table!
In medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to the boil; add 1½ tsps of salt. Reduce heat to simmer and gradually add 1¼ cups of yellow cornmeal in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Continue to simmer while adding cornmeal; continue stirring until the polenta is thick & smooth and pulls away cleanly from sides of pan.
Transfer to shallow bowl and serve in thick slices with rabbit & sauce. A truly generous menu for elegant Fall dining.
"Where love has entered as the seasoning of food, I believe that it will please anyone." ~ Plautus: Casina