This week was PalmaBella's turn to pick our Sunday Supper. We all knew that Palma would choose something fantastic, and something very Italian. True to her reputation, she picked a dish of roasted rabbit with fennel.
You can imagine the search for rabbit... I would have liked to get that wrascally wrabbit who ate the leaves off of my hosta. No such luck.
So instead~ I decided I would be wearing the rabbit and cooking chicken thighs.
Here is Palma's recipe"
Coniglio al Forno con Finoccio
2 1/2-2 3/4 lb rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
or 8 chicken thighs
Seasoning the Rabbit
1 large clove of garlic (I used 4)
1 1/2 inch sprig of rosemary (I used 4)
1/2 t. salt (I'm sure I used a t. of sea salt)
1/8 t. pepper (you got it)
Cooking the Rabbit
2 bulbs fennel cut into 1 1/2 " wedges
1 large onion, cut into 1 1/2 " wedges
3 oz. pancetta, minced
3 cloves of garlic, split
1 t. fennel seeds
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fennel leaves
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine
1/4 c. white wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
The rabbit or chicken tastes best when seasoned one day ahead. I blended the first four ingredients in the food processor with a drizzle of olive oil to make a paste. Rub on the rabbit pieces, and refrigerate overnight in a ziplock.
Two hours and 15 minutes before you would like to eat, preheat the oven to 350. Use a roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold the rabbit pieces and onions and fennel. Scatter fennel, onion, pancetta, garlic, and fennel seeds around and between the pieces, and put half the fennel leaves on top. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes.
Add wine, and roast for another hour. Baste every 15 minutes with pan juices. If pan becomes too dry, add a little more wine or water. (Mine was nice and juicy.)
Raise the heat to 450. Cook 15 more minutes until rabbit becomes golden brown. Turn rabbit pieces, and roast another 15 minutes, basting once more. Veggies should be caramelized.
Transfer rabbit and vegetables to a heated platter and keep warm in the oven while you make a quick pan sauce. Set the roasting pan over two burners on high heat, and deglaze with the wine and stock. Scrape any brown pieces from pan and boil down liquid to about half. (Be careful of heat level if you are using a pyrex pan). Deglaze for 3-5 minutes. Scatter remaining fennel leaves over rabbit and serve sauce in gravy boat or bowl alongside rabbit.
You definitely can reduce the oil to 2 T.. Chicken is more juicy than rabbit, so you should not need to add any liquid. I only baste once, not every 15 minutes. Have a small pan ready on the stove for juices. Remove rabbit/chicken, and veggies to platter, and pour remaining juices in to reduce with a splash or wine or chicken broth. It is easier to manage than a large baking dish on the two burners. You may cut the recipe in half , but you WILL WANT leftovers! If you want, you can skip the pan sauce all together. I love this with grilled veggies and lemon-garlic orzo."
The smell in the kitchen was A-mazing! We had ours with brown rice and a salad and it was really great. Don't be intimidated by the rabbit~ chicken thighs were just fine.