Pappardelle Con La Coniglio

A quick, simple, cheap, and most importantly, delicious meal for 4.  If you have a local butcher where you can find fresh rabbit, use them.  You probably know that rabbits were always hung outside butchers with at least one paw still on, and that this was because anatomically rabbits are almost indistinguishable from cats……..  Plus supermarket rabbit is generally sourced from China……..  Why buy something of doubtful quality that has been sent thousands of miles instead of supporting local shops?

Ingredients:

14 oz Pappardelle pasta [rippled edged ribbon-like pasta which is wonderful for holding all the wonderful sauce!]  You can use Tagliatelle  if you must, but try to find it instead – and you’ll never eat Tagliatelle again!  1 lb minced Rabbit, preferably organic.  You are very unlikely to find this is the supermarket but if you’ve cultivated your friendly local butcher [if not, why not?]  he will at least clean and section it for you.  If you cannot mince it, strip and chunk the rabbit meat into small pieces;  2 cloves of garlic, not sliced, just peeled and bashed flat!; 1 large onion, sliced and diced; 1 or 2 sticks of celery, chopped, including the leaves; 2 rashers of unsmoked back bacon, sliced into strips; 3 glasses of dry white Italian wine, 1 for the meal, 2 for the cook…..; 3 tbsp Olive Oil, sea salt and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large casserole or thick bottomed saucepan, with a lid.  Add the onion, celery and bacon and cook gently ’til the onion is softened and browning then add the garlic and cook, stirring for another 2 mins.  Then add the rabbit and cook for another 5 mins.  Turn the heat up briefly and add the white wine.  As soon as it has boiled off, turn back to simmer.   Let it cook away for 30-40 mins, keeping an eye on it, stirring regularly, and if necessary adding a little more water or stock to stop the sauce from thickening too much.  Check and add a little black pepper if needed.

With your pasta water at a rolling boil, add a little olive oil and sea salt, then ease in your Pappardelle.  Cook ’til ‘al dente’, then drain well.  Fold into your sauce and serve immediately.

Buono Appetito!

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Zuppa di Pasta e Fagioli

For this soup it is well worth seeking out from your local deli the small pasta shapes, which are intended for these dishes, Nochette, Anelli, Acini di Pepe, or Ditalini.  Failing that most supermarkets these days have Orzo, the small pasta which looks like rice.

Serves 4/6

To make this a quick and simple dish I would use 2 drained cans of suitable beans, in water, Flageolet, Borlotti or Cannelini are perhaps best; 2 tsp olive oil; 2 rashers of unsmoked bacon or bacon pieces, chopped small; 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 1 onion, finely chopped; 1 stick of celery, finely chopped [or better still if you have any 1 ‘skin’ of Fennel Bulb, finely sliced]; 1 litre of stock, homemade if you have it, or for convenience I often use organic, low salt, stock cubes or powder; 1 can organic chopped Italian tomatoes; 200 g of small pasta; freshly grated Manchego to top, which I find melts deliciously rather than floating like Parmesan ice floes tend to.

Heat a large saucepan with the oil and put in the bacon, garlic, onion and celery or fennel.  Saute stirring until soft and the garlic is just turning brown.  Add the tomatoes, 3/4 of the stock and bring to the boil.  Turn down and simmer for about 15 mins, then add your beans and simmer for a further 5 mins.  Scoop out a good quantity of the beans in a sieve, and then push them through the sieve back into the soup.  Bring back to the boil and add your pasta.  Though small they may well take 10 mins to soften so keep stirring to prevent your soup sticking.  The soup should be thick.  If getting too dry add the remaining stock.

Serve into soup bowls grating a little black pepper on each and adding the Manchego.   Accompany with thickly sliced, warmed, ciabatta loaf and you have the perfect supper dish for a chilly day, Spring or Winter.