Makes 6 servings
Ischia Island is a hot culinary destination, but for much of its history, the island was very poor. Some of the most well-known dishes on the island feature foods that were easy to forage or capture, like this traditional rabbit dish. Selective breeding of rabbits has been employed for many years on Ischia, in order to ensure a supply of high-quality meat.
- 1 rabbit (about 3 1/4 lb), cut up, liver reserved
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, cut into medium dice
- 2 celery stalks, cut into medium dice
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 fresh bay leaf, torn into pieces
- 1/4 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 bottle full-bodied dry red wine, such as Nebbiolo or Amarone
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
Wash the rabbit pieces under cold water and pat dry with paper toweling.
In a bowl, add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon, and cloves. Pour in the red wine and mix well. Add the rabbit pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
When you are ready to cook, remove the rabbit from the marinade and pat dry with paper toweling. Strain the marinade, reserving the wine. Remove the bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves and reserve. Roughly chop the vegetables and set aside.
Dredge the rabbit pieces in flour and shake off any excess. Heat a casserole, large enough to hold the meat, over low heat. Add the oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the rabbit pieces and sauté until well colored on all sides. Remove the rabbit pieces using a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same casserole, add the vegetables from the marinade and cook until translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add back the rabbit pieces, season with salt and pepper, and pour in the wine reserved from the marinade. Add the reserved bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves. Cover and gently bring to a simmer over low heat for about 1 hour; the meat should cook very slowly.
Chop the liver very fine and add it to the casserole. Let simmer for another 10 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, the wine should be completely absorbed and the sauce should be quite dense. To make the sauce more uniform, you may pass it through a food mill with the smallest disc. Serve the rabbit very hot.
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