In the Italian Viterbo area where this recipe stems from, the term “porchetta”, which means roasted pig, is applied to any dish that use wild fennel, being it fresh or dried flowers. The wild flowers should not be confused with fennel seeds.
I am fortunate to have access to hunting areas and friends that hunt rabbits with me. I also breed rabbits for the table on a regular basis. Last week, I could not make it to the hunt and my friend was good enough to bring the only Hare they shot for me to cook. I also have a good friend across the road that showed me the wild fennel growing in the old quarry across the road, so I had assembled all the ingredients for my dish of wild hare with wild fennel!
Wild Hare with Fennel
One large Hare, cleaned, gutted and washed
Heart, liver and kidneys of the Hare (Coratella) – Cleaned, washed and cubed or minced
Extra Virgin olive oil
Six large sage leaves
4 Garlic cloves – cleaned and crushed
1 Cup dry white wine (the best is from Orvieto)
2 Medium potatoes peeled and cubed
2 Slices of Prosciutto or Pancetta (home made if possible)
1 handful of rosemary leaves
Half a handful of fresh Fennel Flowers
12 Black Olives – pitted
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 150C. Heat some olive oil in a heavy pan and ad the coratella, sage, half the garlic, salt and pepper. Brown the coratella, add the wine that you have not drunk yet and allow it to evaporate. Ad the potatoes and mix through, then take it off the heat. Wrap the coratella mixture in the prosciuto. Stuff the hare with the fennel, rosemary and wrapped coratella. Sow the rabbit up so the stuffing would not fall out. Put some olive oil in a heavy oven pan large enough to take the whole hare. Add the hare to he pan with the rest of the garlic, salt and pepper. Roast the hare about two hours. Halfway through the roasting process, add the olives and the rest of the wine you have not drunk. Turn it once or twice and baste it every so often. If the rabbit legs look dry, wrap the leg ends in aluminium foil.
Old recipes that use meats that are these days regulated to the garbage or pets abound in Italy. The problem is that offal is not generally obtainable. Slaughtering my own animals has huge advantages!
With a few rabbit carcasses in the freezer, we decided to make a dish with the coratella (heart, liver, spleen, kidneys and lungs) incorporating some of the artichokes that we now have in abundance. Mrs BYO created the dish and did the cooking, serving it with the staple of the North, polenta. It was a delicious meal and we have all of the rabbit left to feed the more fussy members of the tribe.
CORATELLA CON CARCIOFI
As many cleaned rabbit offals as you can get your hands on, but at least 4, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup rabbit fat. The fat surrounding the kidneys are the best. alternatively use 1/2 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary
4 or 5 artichokes, cleaned and prepared, cut into 4 sections. All the green leaves of the artichoke must be snapped off and the choke removed, leaving only the tender white parts of the leaves and the heart
salt and pepper
Heat the fat in the pan on a low heat until the fat runs clear and only small bits of browned fat remains in the pan. Saute the garlic and rosemary in the fat until the garlic is golden. Add the rabbit, season with salt and pepper and brown everything quickly over a high heat. Sprinkle with a bit of wine. Lower the heat and cook the rabbit for about 10 minutes, regularly sprinkling the meat with wine, then add the artichokes. Sprinkle wine generously and cook uncovered, turning the artichokes often. When the artichokes are tender, serve hot with polenta or bread.
Coratella is the Italian name for all the organs in the thoracic (chest cavity) and the dish includes the heart, lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys of either a young lamb, chicken or rabbit. We were fortunate to obtain a suckling Boerbok lamb from a farmer close to Dunedin and I went to the farm and slaughtered it myself, hence had access to all the organs normally discarded and seldom eaten in New Zealand. Coratella is also the name of the resulting dish.
Clean the organs making sure that all the blood is washed off, then cut it into cubes about 2 cm square. Dice two onions and two cloves of garlic and fry in some butter and olive oil until well soft. Ad all the organs, except the liver, and fry well over medium to high heat. While frying, ad a chopped red chili, two bay leaves, salt and pepper. When the meat is almost done ad the liver and turn the heat to high. Ad a handful of chopped parsley and fry for three to four minutes until livers are done, but still pink on the inside. Ad one glass of dry white wine and let it evaporate. Serve immediately with polenta.
Do not forget the good home made dry red wine!
Rabbit is another of my favorites and fortunately readily available if not farmed yourself, and though Artusi mentions a well-to-do person’s being put off by the latter, they have always been popular out in the country because they’re easy to catch or raise. This recipe for stewed and roasted hare is Calabrian, but works equally well for rabbit, chicken or even quail
1 hare, chopped
2 Sweet Red onions, sliced
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs mint
Marjoram to taste
Thyme to taste
Slices of toasted bread
1/4 cup olive oil or rendered lard
A bottle of Ciró Rosso or any other good red wine
Marinate the hare in the wine with the onions and the herbs for two days, turning the meat occasionally.
Pat the meat dry, flour it, and brown it in the fat, using an oven-proof pot. Once the pieces are all browned stir in the marinade, bring to a simmer (you may want to heat the marinade separately while the meat is browning), and transfer the hare to a preheated 350 F (175 C) oven. Roast until done, spooning the liquid over the meat occasionally to keep it moist.
When the meat is done remove it to a platter and keep it warm – strain the liquid and reduce it over medium heat until it is quite thick. Spread it over the toasted bread, and serve it with the meat.
A wine? Another bottle or two of Ciró Rosso.