Prep 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 45 mins
In 'Lidia's Italy' by Lidia Bastianich
- 1 (3 1/2 lb) rabbit, cut up (or 6 rabbit legs)
- 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
- 1 cup celery, cut in 1-inch chunks
- 1⁄2 cup carrot, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 10 big fresh basil leaves (1/4 cup, packed to measure)
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 cups chicken stock or 6 cups vegetable stock, heated
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 lb pappardelle pasta, cooked al dente
- Trim the rabbit pieces of any fat, rinse them well, and pat dry.
- Using the food processor, mince the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and basil for 15-20 seconds, to a paste (this is pestata).
- Season the rabbit pieces all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Pour the olive oil into the saucepan, and set over medium heat.
- Lay all the meat in the pan, and let the pieces caramelize gradually, turning them every couple of minutes, until lightly browned on all sides, 6-8 minutes.
- Scrape in the pestata, and stir it around the pan, tumbling the rabbit pieces over to coat them with the paste.
- Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and keep stirring, scraping up the browned bits on the pan bottom and sides, as the pestata steams and sizzles.
- When the pestata is dry and starting to stick to the pan, pour in 2 cups or so of hot stock, almost to cover the meat.
- Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, adjust the heat to keep it perking gently, and cook partially covered, occasionally turning the rabbit pieces and stirring up the seasonings.
- As the liquid reduces, stir in another cup of hot stock every 20 minutes or so.
- Cook 1 1/2 hours or more, until the rabbit meat is quite tender; then turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the sugo cool completely.
- Remove the rabbit pieces from the braising juices, and pull all the meat off the bones.
- Discard the bones and cartilage; shred the meat in bite-sized morsels, and stir it back in the juices.
- Add more stock so the sauce has a flowing consistency, heat to a simmer, and cook for another 15 minutes or longer, until the meat is moist and melded with the sauce.
- Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- While the sauce is hot, toss in pappardelle.