the appetizer:

New Classic Family Dinners: More Than 200 Everyday Recipes and Menus From the Award-winning Campanile Restaurant by Mark Peel with Martha Rose Shulman, includes recipes like Roasted Tomato Soup; Rabbit Cacciatore; and Monkfish Osso Buco with Risotto Milanese and Gremolata.

Cookbook Profile

Rabbit Cacciatore

Makes 8 servings

Rabbit Cacciatore


Rabbit is a meat that has been dealt a bad hand in this country. It's all because of the movie Bambi. I can't tell you how many guests tell us that they "don't eat Thumper." If only they knew what they were missing. Rabbit is a lean, flavorful meat, one of those foods that the phrase "It tastes like chicken" was made for—except rabbit has more flavor. Rabbit Cacciatore is a brothy, aromatic one-pot dish. Cacciatore (in French it would be chasseur) means "hunter's style," which means the dish will contain mushrooms because it's assumed that if a hunter were going to cook a rabbit he had just caught, he would find some wild mushrooms to season the dish and would make something like this. This recipe sounds difficult, but it's not, though it takes some time. Try to have the rabbits cut up by your butcher.

Marinade and Broth

Finished Dish

1. The day before you wish to serve, marinate the rabbit. Toss the rabbit pieces in a bowl with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the thyme and rosemary, and the chopped parsley. Cover, or seal in a ziplock plastic bag, and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Place the organs in a small container and cover with milk. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Meanwhile, make the broth. Cut the tailbone, rib cage, and neck into smaller pieces. Combine with the diced onion, carrot, celery, and leek leaves in a medium saucepan. Add the canola oil and place over medium-low heat to brown gently. Stir from time to time, and when the meat and vegetables are lightly browned, after about 10 minutes, add the white wine and scrape the bottom ofthe pan to deglaze. Add the garlic cloves, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and boil until the wine has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Add the stock or broth and the water and bring to a simmer. Simmer partially covered over low heat for 1 hour. Strain through a fine strainer set over a bowl, pressing the ingredients against the strainer to extract all of the savory juice. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to cook, lift off any fat that has formed on the top. Bring back to a simmer; taste, and adjust the seasoning.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Lightly dust with flour. Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a wide, lidded skillet or casserole over medium-high heat and brown the rabbit pieces, in batches, until light brown on all sides, about 5 to 8 minutes.Transfer the rabbit pieces to a plate. Once the pieces are browned, add the smaller boneless flaps of rabbit meat and brown on both sides, then remove to the plate. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms are slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt, and stir in the tomatoes and garlic. Return the rabbit to the pan, placing the pieces on top of the mushroom mixture. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven. Braise for 1 hour, until the rabbit is very tender, almost falling off the bone.

4. Remove the rabbit pieces from the broth and arrange on a serving dish or deep platter. Remove the flat boneless pieces and cut into slivers. Return them to the broth. Bring to a simmer and reduce by about one-fourth.

5. Meanwhile, cook the liver; kidneys, and heart. Heat the canola oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Remove the organs from the milk, pat dry, and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Pour the sauce over the rabbit. Cut the liver; heart, and kidneys into quarters and scatter over the top. Garnish with parsley if desired, and serve with Spaetzle (page 211) or wide noodles.


Chicken Stock

Makes 4 to 5 quarts

You have the option of using canned chicken stock or broth in these soup recipes, but homemade stock will always taste better. The stock should simmer very slowly over low heat for about 4 hours, never boiling, and you need to skim the top regularly. A rapidly boiling stock won't cook the chicken bones faster, it will just churn the ingredients and cause them to break up, clouding the stock and mucking up the pure flavor of chicken a good stock should have. This makes a lot of stock and requires a large stockpot. If you're going to spend the time, you might as well make a large quantity; it freezes well, and you'll be glad to have it on hand.

1. Combine all the chicken and bones with the water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Using a ladle, skim off any foam that rises. Turn the heat to low, and simmer 3 hours. Skim off the foam from time to time.

2. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion, leek, celery, carrot, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook gently until the vegetables soften slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Scrape into the pot with the chicken and add the bouquet garni and remaining teaspoon of salt. Continue to simmer for 1 hour.

3. Strain the stock into a large bowl or pot through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Refrigerate overnight and lift off the fat from the surface. Transfer to smaller containers and refrigerate or freeze.

How to Make a Bouquet Garni

A bouquet garni is a bouquet of herbs and other seasonings that go into soups and stews to add flavor. I usually tie the ingredients into a piece of cheesecloth, but if your bouquet garni consists only of herb sprigs and a bay leaf, you can tie them together with kitchen string. To tie them into cheesecloth, cut a square of cheesecloth approximately 8 x 8 inches. Place the ingredients on the cheesecloth about 2 inches in from the bottom edge. Fold the ends of the cheesecloth in over the ends of the herb sprigs, then fold the bottom edge over and roll up the cheesecloth. Tie up with a piece of kitchen string, wrapping the string from one end to the other and back to make sure the packet is secure.

Another way to make a bouquet garni is to use the dark green ends of leek greens instead of cheesecloth. Wash the greens and cut two 8-inch lengths. Lay them overlapping, and place the ingredients on top. Fold the sides up and the ends in over the ingredients, then tie up with kitchen string.


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New Classic Family Dinners


This page created January 2010