One of my favorite stand out dishes served by my mom is her pan fried rabbit. My grandmother in Italy used to make it, my mom continued the tradition here in the USA, and now I can add myself to the list. This dish will become a staple in my diet. Rabbit is eco-friendly and sustainable, low fat, low cholesterol, and has a wonderfully delicate flavor-not at all gamey, contrary to what many may think.
The rabbit we prepared was accompanied by a medley of mushrooms including morels, porcini, port0bella, shitake, and oyster. Steamed green beans with grated almond were added for a crunch element in the dish.
Mushrooms and rabbit are a natural combination because of the umami flavors that each displays on the palate. Typically, mushrooms and Pinot Noir pair well, for the same reason. The fruit and peat in the Goldwater Pinot Noir were a pleasing contrast to the aromatic herbs and mushrooms in this rabbit dish.
Goldwater’s Pinot Noir is from the Wairau Valley in Marlborough, New Zealand. It’s sustainably produced, and is delicious all on it’s own. After my first sip of this pinot noir, I immediately thought of my mother’s rabbit dish.
The nose has aromas of cherries, raspberries, and earthy spices that draw out the complexity of the meat. It had a wonderful red fruit flavor with a lingering spicy finish, and we really enjoyed drinking this wine along side the dish.
The three pound rabbit was purchased at Petty’s Meats in Longwood, FL. It cost $23, and is enough to make 3 to 4 portions. Finding rabbit might be a challenge based on your location, but before grabbing a shotgun and some hunting dogs, check with your local butcher. If your butcher doesn’t have it, they may be able to order it for you. There are on-line retailers that sell rabbit as well. Unfortunately major supermarket chains don’t typically stock rabbit.
Here’s our recipe for the dish-as Rachel Ray will tell you, we Italians don’t measure much, so alter amounts to your liking!
Italian Rabbit with Mushrooms – Dante Filippelli
- 1 rabbit (2 to 3 lb.)
- rosemary, thyme, sage, italian parsley
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- mushrooms (i used reconstituted dried mushroom blend)
- minced garlic
- can of crushed tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- dry red wine
- green beans
- grape seed oil
24 hours prior to cooking:
Butcher the rabbit into 8 pieces. Two forelegs, 2 hind legs, and 4 saddle pieces. Trim any excess fat, and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle a pan with salt, pepper, and finely chopped rosemary, thyme, sage and minced garlic. Place rabbit on pan in single layer. Then sprinkle top of rabbit with seasonings. Be sure to cover all sides of rabbit with herbs, salt, and pepper. Dry marinated rabbit adds more flavor and aroma than a liquid marinade. It also produces a crispier and juicier rabbit when using high-heat techniques. I will show the grilling method next time, and discuss the difference.
Cooking the rabbit:
Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add the rabbit and reduce to medium-hot. Be sure to keep turning the rabbit and cook until it is brown, and only a trace of pink remains in the center. It should take around 25 minutes.
Five minutes before rabbit is done, add the crushed tomato, and a chopped shallot, for flavor. Be sure to space meat apart in the pan, don’t over pack the skillet, and remember that saddle pieces take longer to cook than leg pieces. I cooked them in two shifts.
The mushroom blend was reconstituted using red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Heat grape seed oil in a pan and once oil is hot, add chopped shallots and let them reduce for a few minutes. Add mushrooms, chopped garlic and cook on medium high heat. When mushrooms are almost done add some of the wine used to reconstitute the mushrooms, and increase heat to cook off wine. Save this liquid for other dishes. Add chopped Italian parsley as garnish on top of mushrooms.
The green beans were simply steamed and seasoned with salt and pepper with grated almond. Next time I will probably chop the almonds instead of grating. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did, in fact I could have spent a bit more time taking better photos, but the aroma was so compelling, it became impossible not to dig in immediately.
Goldwater Pinot Noir is available at many retailers around the country. Average SRP is $25.00 – a great deal for a wine of this caliber.
Dante Filippelli is a writer and Italy born cook in the Orlando, Florida area. He can be contacted for recipe inclusions and brand reviews at [email protected]