Rabbit, a low-fat meat with a delicate flavour, is the classic ingredient for this Tuscan dish, although wild hare is often used. Pappardelle is its perfect pasta partner. Serve it with a radicchio salad, or combine mixed leaves, herbs, cucumber, courgette and green pepper to boost the vegetable content of the meal.
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2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 small bulb of fennel or 1 celery stick, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
55 g (2 oz) pancetta (about 3 slices), cut into small pieces
1 tbsp juniper berries, coarsely crushed
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary
340 g (12 oz) boneless rabbit, cut into largechunks, or 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) rabbit joints
250 ml (8½ fl oz) red wine
400–450 ml (14–15 fl oz) chicken stock
3 tbsp tomato purée
340 g (12 oz) pappardelle or other wide flat noodles
75 g (2½ oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to serve
Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole. Add the onions, fennel or celery, garlic and pancetta, and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened but not browned.
Add the juniper berries, rosemary and rabbit. Cook over a fairly low heat until the rabbit pieces are lightly browned; this takes about 5 minutes.
Pour in the wine and 250 ml (8 1/2 fl oz) of the stock, and stir in the tomato purée. Cover and cook over a very low heat until the rabbit is tender, about 15–20 minutes for boneless meat or 30 minutes for joints.
Remove the rabbit from the sauce and set it aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the meat into small pieces or dice, discarding skin and bones, and set it aside again.
While the rabbit is cooling, increase the heat slightly and continue to simmer the sauce, adding the remaining stock in stages as it cooks. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is reduced to a coating consistency and well flavoured.
Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
Return the diced meat to the sauce and heat it through. Drain the pasta, transfer it to a serving dish and lightly toss with the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Top with the sauce and serve immediately with the Parmesan cheese.
Some more ideas
Instead of rabbit, use boneless turkey breast, cut into large fillets, or chicken portions. * If you can't find dried pappardelle, make your own by cutting sheets of fresh lasagne into 2 cm (¾ in) wide noodles. Cook for 4–5 minutes or until al dente.
Rabbit is high in protein and relatively low in fat, the fat content being similar to skinned chicken. It is rich in B vitamins and a good source of iron. * Red wine contains flavonoid compounds which may help to protect against heart disease.