The other night I decided to cook rabbit for dinner. It is ages since I cooked it and as I recall it being quite simple, I wanted to see if I remembered the recipe.
I had also bought a new ceramic baking dish so was looking forward to using it. As I rode the scooter home, I was planning the menu and also thinking about the cooking method I would use for the coniglio (rabbit). I was also thinking about my new addition to the kitchen – that ceramic dish, you know those gorgeous casserole pots with the lid?
Firstly I placed a tablespoon of olive oil in the dish, then placed the rabbit pieces in the pot to brown and seal in the juices.
Did you know that here in Italy, when you buy a rabbit, either at the market or the supermarket, the head is still attached? It is really quite sad and off-putting. I remember being told that the head of the rabbit was left on because during and after the war, when good meat was scarce, domestic cats were killed and sold, passed off as rabbit. The head was then left on the rabbit to prove that it was not a cat and this custom has remained to this day. (not that cats are eaten in Italy at all!!!)
Getting back to my rabbit recipe, there I was enjoying the aroma taking over my kitchen, loving the sizzling sound of the meat searing when suddenly I heard a loud, sharp noise! I wont repeat the word that escaped my mouth as I realized that my lovely new ceramic dish had just cracked, right along the base! So…….. you could say it was at this stage that I learnt that my ceramic dish maybe wasn’t supposed to have been put on top of the open flame! Where’s my Le Creuset when I need it???!!!
As this happened, I was actually talking to my dad so was giving him a running commentary (also had to apologize for the language mid conversation of course!) Dad’s advice : “Take it back, get a refund, there’s something wrong with it, of course you can put ceramic on the stove top!” I had to end the conversation quite quickly and save the dinner so I quickly grabbed my reliable heavy based saucepan and threw the rabbit in there. Luckily the ceramic pot had not actually broken so I didn’t have to worry about ceramic chips cracking our teeth during dinner!
Deep breath and back to the recipe again. I then added a generous splash of white wine, a bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and parsley, freshly ground salt and pepper and placed the lid on the pot. I left it simmering away for about 15 mins before turning the rabbit pieces over, giving them a bit of a baste with the delicious liquid which was adding so much flavor to the rabbit. At this stage, I removed the lid to let the liquid reduce and left it cooking slowly for another 15 minutes.
I served it with the beautiful aromatic juice poured over the top and a simple salad. Despite my little hiccup, our dinner was delicious and husband was quite impressed.
Now I can’t quite bring myself to throw out that ceramic dish. It is still sitting in the kitchen while I decide whether it can be used in the oven (which is what the guy who sold it to me said it was made for) or does it become a new place to store my garlic and onions?