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Rabbit Ragu alla Bolognese

According to Herbst, a ragu is a thick full-bodied meat sauce. A Ragu alla Bolognese is a pasta dish sauced with ragu--popular in Northern Italy. It's a low fat but heavy dish--a stew by another name. Last week, the local paper posted their contest winning recipes. Awarded first place was a Rabbit Ragu with Roasted Tomatoes. It looked inviting since, more than less, it followed the classic Mediterranean ragu recipes in my library, but calling for rabbit instead of beef, which is more traditional.

So I thawed a three pound package of rabbit that was well past its 'best by' date, spotted fettuccini in the fridge and canned tomatoes in the pantry. So why not spend Sunday afternoon putting them all together with inspiration from the award winning recipe.

So here is my version of this dish

Rabbit Ragu alla Bolognese

Yield:  about 8 servings
See Abbreviations, if needed

3 lbs rabbit, two critters each cut into six pieces
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, pureed,
1 28oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes (Cento brand is quite good)
10oz dry red wine
2T dry sage or Italian spice mix
1 cup chicken or beef stock (if needed)
4 large ripe tomatoes, halved and peeled
3 oz EVOO
2t fennel pollen or 1T fennel seeds
S/P to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In a very large Dutch oven, over high heat, brown the rabbit pieces in EVOO
3. Add the onion, garlic, canned tomato, wine and dry seasoning
4. Add the stock if needed to barely cover the meat in the pot
5. BTB, reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer on the stove top for 4 hours or until meat is falling off the bones
6. Meanwhile, oil a half sheet pan with EVOO and place the tomato halves cut side up
7. Dust the tomato tops with a little fennel pollen or a little more fennel seeds (strong stuff)
8. Roast tomatoes in a 350F oven for one hour
9. Then, open the Dutch oven, when done, remove the all the meat and set aside to cool
10. When cooled, pull the rabbit meat off the bones by hand, set the meat aside and discard the bones
(make sure the meat is free of all the tiny rabbit bones)
11. Skim the fat off the still hot sauce in the Dutch oven, there won't be much but get rid of it
12. Scoop the hot sauce into a China cap or other medium mesh strainer and push it through the mesh into another large pot
13. When the roasted tomatoes are done, remove to cutting board, cut out white and stem parts and add to the strained pot of sauce
14. With a stick blender, puree the sauce in the pot (or use a standing blender but be careful the sauce is hot)
15. Bring the sauce to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes to reduce sauce volume
16. Taste the sauce and add salt and freshly ground pepper, then BTB briefly
17. Lower heat to medium low, add the pulled rabbit meat and cook a few more minutes
18. Serve over freshly made fettuccini.


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