Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Ragù di coniglio con pappardelle - Rabbit ragù with pappardelle

Tastes better with pasta you made yourself
For richly flavoured stews and pasta sauces, it’s hard to beat game. Since they are becoming more widely available, I wanted to add rabbit and boar to the growing collection of Bolognese classic recipes here. Specialist butchers, rather than supermarkets, are your best bet and even if they don’t have game on display, they can usually obtain it for you. I know wild sounds better than domesticated or farmed but the latter is what you will get and in this case that is not a bad thing; the meat will be healthy and may even taste better than the more athletic wild version.

Let’s start with the rabbit. The secret is to begin by browning the meat and then adding it to the classic ingredients of the ragù: onion, garlic, carrot, celery plus lots of bay and rosemary and some bacon or pancetta. You don’t need to cook the rabbit for very long – an hour at the most – otherwise you will end up with stringy meat. Remove the meat from the bone and add it back to the ragù and you are ready to serve it with the pasta. I had a lot of help in the kitchen on Saturday so I got two of my assistants to make some pappardelle, the wide pasta that traditionally accompanies game sauces. You will need a pasta machine or a rolling pin and strong arms.

Serves 4


300g pasta flour

3 large eggs

1tsp salt

1 whole farmed rabbit

3tbl olive oil

100g streaky bacon or pancetta

1 large onion

2 carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 cloves of garlic

1 glass of dry white wine

1tbl rosemary

6 bay leaves

500ml chicken or ham stock

4tbl tomato paste

salt and pepper


1. To make the pasta mix the flour, salt and eggs and knead for about 10 minutes until you have an elastic mass. Cover in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

2. Roll out the pasta until it is half a centimetre thick then cut into eight pieces and put each through a pasta machine until they are as thin as the narrowest setting. Cut into ribbons 2.5cm wide.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole over a medium-high heat. Add the rabbit cut into three or four pieces and brown all over. Remove.

4. Add the bacon, carrot, celery, garlic and onion – all finely chopped - and fry until they are soft and begin to colour. Add the wine and raise the temperature to drive off the alcohol.

5. Add back the rabbit plus the bay leaves, the rosemary finely chopped, the tomato paste and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for an hour until the rabbit meat is easy to slide off the bone.

6. Remove the meat, take it off the bone and chop into small dice. Combine the meat with the sauce, and add some more water if the sauce is too dry. If the sauce is too wet, drive off some of the liquid before adding the rabbit meat back. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente, and then drain. Combine with the ragù and serve.

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