We moved to the Boston Metro area about 6 Months ago. No sooner had we moved here had we found an incredible Russian Supermarket next door. They have tons of things I had never seen before, especially since I am part Russian with NO Russian influence. Among other things, they have frozen Rabbit. This took both my boyfriend and I by surprise as we had both never had it. So one rather adventurous day I decided it was time we tried it. I looked up several recipes and settled on this one, Calabrian Rabbit.It was, to me at least, the perfect way to introduce my palette to this new meat. Italian food has always been a mainstay for me. My father, Eastern European and Russian by birth cooked better Italian that I think my Italian mother did. His sauce is still to this day something I strive to cook.
My boyfriend helps me out a lot in the kitchen, being that we both love to eat. For this recipe he gave me a hand cutting up the rabbit as we had bought a WHOLE rabbit. I don’t I have enough upper body strength to open a jar of pickles sometimes, let a lone chop up a rabbit. Since we have never cut up anything before, we used these helpful hints.
It’s so small and cute isn’t it?
He is very good at this…
As per the instructions Smitty started off by trimming off all of the silverskin. This seemed like cruel and unusual punishment as there seemed to be a lot of this silverskin. He then started breaking it all down and we ended up with the cut out version of a cottontail.
Now, onto cooking this bad boy. I have to admit, I was slightly intimidated by this recipe. I wasn’t sure how well through this meat was supposed to be cooked or what it would taste like, but I endured anyway.
- 1 domestic Rabbit, cut into serving peices
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage (which I did not use in my version)
- 4 Cloves of Garlic, smashed
- 2 Tablespoons Dried oregano or marjoram ( I used oregano)
- 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Calabrian hot pepper paste or 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (I used about 1 Tablespoon of Sriracha, we like it spicy)
- 1 Tablespoon sweet paprika (I used smoked)
- 1 Cup roasted red peppers, cut into slices
1. Use a wide, shallow pot. I ended up using my steel Dutch oven because I don’t have every pot in to world, and personally I think it worked just fine. Arrange the rabbit pieces in the pot and just barely cover it with water. Bring to a simmer and add a pinch of salt and the bay leaves. Skim away the scum that starts to form on the surface of the water.
2. Simmer the rabbit uncovered for 1 hour, turning the pieces from time to time as the water cooks away; this keep both side moist.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Keep turning the rabbit and sausage pieces so that they are covered in the sauce. When it thickens, in about 10-15 minutes, you are ready to serve.
I served the rabbit over polenta. I thought this paired really well, it was a spicy red tomato sauce with a gamier meat over a smooth polenta.
In the end, we loved this dish. I decided if I make Rabbit again I would like to make Hasenpfeffer. I would probably like Rabbit a lot more in a more traditional dish. You know when they say it tastes like chicken? I felt that way about Rabbit. It was a very white meat, that really did taste like chicken, which is why I would like to try a more traditional dish. Maybe it was the way I made it, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but I’ll try it again. Why not, right?
I did love the sauce however. The roasted red peppers and the hint of sriracha was a welcomed new change to the typical red sauce that I make. Surprisingly, I would like to pair this sauce with penne or even rigatoni. I love a spicy red sauce (Arrabiata sauce <3).