Coniglio a Porchetta (Rabbit with Wild Fennel)

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.


Do not forget the home made red wine!

Swan Sausages

2016-05-29 - Black Swan

Following another successful day of hunting ducks, I returned home not only with a few ducks, but also with some swans. Being a keen sausage maker, I thought it appropriate to make my first ever swan sausages. After spending considerable time “hunting” through all of my cook books, it was not a huge surprise to come up empty handed for swan sausages. I adapted some wild duck recipes and made a few kilograms each of basil and sun dried tomato, sage and swan and pork sausages. After tasting all of these, which are all very delightful, I came to the conclusion that the swan taste is very strong and over powering camouflaging the subtle tastes of the spices and next time I shall have to blend it with some milder meats.  Overall a very interesting and delightful experience.

Duck Hunting in Middlemarch

I was very fortunate to be invited for my first New Zealand duck hunt last Saturday. We prepared our Maimais on Friday and was out before light on Saturday. Even if there were to be no ducks, the shear beauty and pleasure of being out in the wild was adequate compensation. We were fortunate to get our share of ducks early on Saturday and enjoyed the views, walks along the streams and fresh air for the rest of the day. Sunday was duck cleaning day and after a few technical hitches, everything went smoothly and soon we had enough duck meat to last a long time. I was fortunate as nobody was interested in the offal and had it all to myself. As soon as got home I made it all into coratella, ate some and packed the rest into about 30 portions for the freezer – wonderful. The ducks were cut into portions, vacuum packed and frozen. I gave some meat to a few close friends and my neighbor across the road tried it the very next day and gave me the recipe for slow basted duck breast with dried figs, a recipe she created herself, which apparently was absolutely delicious.


Braise some onion and garlic in olive oil in a oven proof pot. Dust the duck breasts in flour and brown in a separate pan in olive oil. Now put the duck in with the onion and garlic and ad passata (tomato sauce) wine, chicken stock, dried figs, salt and pepper and bake in the oven for four to five hours at 120C. Turn and baste every so often.

Duck breasts and figs are on the menu for later in the week!

There were various hunting groups in the area and Saturday evening we all congregated to discuss the day and watch rugby together. I was disappointed to learn that many hunters would take breasts only and a few groups even discarding up to 60 entire ducks unused to only go out the next morning and kill some more. I am used to harvest for the pot only, waste nothing, and leave some for next year.


2015-11-27 - Coratella

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!



Lunch today

2015-03-06 - Chicken Feet Pot2015-03-06 - Chicken Feet

Dairy prices are down, venison keeps falling, electricity is up and the courier companies are screwing us left, right and center, so here at Back Yard Farmer we are not wasting anything.  We have worked out using almost everything from the garden and are now working on using every part of the back yard chickens, starting with what we always discarded, the feet. I have often eaten chicken feet, mostly in some Asian restaurant, and the very best I had was on a recent business trip to Qingdao, China (along with an assortment of scorpions, tasty bugs and larvae like things – the food of the future). Strange how Chinese food does not taste as good in restaurants outside China. The same goes for Italian food, I suppose, unless one cooks oneself, so, here is Mrs BYF’s version of chicken feet – delicious although the cook was a bit squeamish to start off with.

Zampe di Gallina 

Chicken Feet Arrabiata  (Arrabiata means angry – so this is quite hot)

4 chicken wings or any other part of the chicken that is not dry white meat, skin on

6 to 8 chicken feet, nails removed (I had to do that myself, Mrs BYF baulked)

1 piece of fresh ginger just bigger than a thumb finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 large red chilli or as much as you can take, finely chopped

1 litre of chicken stock

small handful of parsley and sage finely chopped

4 table spoons of olive oil

1 cup of wine, red or white

Pre heat the oven to 200 deg

Use a cast iron pot with a close fitting lid, big enough to take all the chicken. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pot and brown the chicken pieces well on all sides. Remove and add the feet,  cook on medium high for a few minutes. Remove the feet. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot and add the chilli and garlic. Cook until the  garlic is soft but not coloured. deglase the pot with the wine, cook until the wine bubbles.  Add the chicken, feet and all to the pot, and cover the chicken with the stock. Bring to the boil on the stove, cover the pot with the lid and place the pot in the oven. Cook for 3 hours, twenty minutes before serving, add the parsley and sage. Eat with polenta.

Do not forget to enjoy this dish with lots of red wine!  ENJOY!


Porchetta – Roast Pork Leg

Riomaggiore gebakte vark2014-12-04 - Pork Roast 1 2014-12-04 - Pork Roast 2

We were given a lovely bit of pork – free range of course! It was quite a big leg and I had to trim it quite a lot to make it fit the pot. I do have roasting trays big enough for large pieces of meat but my present oven is not wide enough for them.

PORCHETTA  (leg only. In Italy one sees the whole pig roasted to perfection)

The pork will roast for a few hours so arrange the rosemary and sage twigs, a handful of bay leaves, one lemon, two whole garlic (skin on), for the pork to rest on, in the bottom of the pot. Drizzle generously with olive oil

Score the skin of the joint deeply, right down to the meat

Ingredients for paste :

1 handful of fresh rosemary

1 handful if fresh sage

3 peeled cloves of garlic

4 or 5 fresh bay leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil or more

salt and pepper

Pre heat the oven to maximum heat. It must be really hot so heat it for at least 20 minutes

Meanwhile, put all the paste ingredients in a mortar and pound vigorously. Add olive oil to make a rough paste. Cover the skin with the mixture forcing it between the scored pieces of skin. Rub salt on the skin to help the crackling process. Put the meat in the pot or pan, on top of the sage, rosemary, bay and garlic. and put it in the center of the hot oven. Roast the meat at the high heat for about 25 minutes or until you have golden brown crackling, then turn the heat down to 170 degrees and cook for 3 hours or until the meat is soft enough to break away wit a fork.

The flavor and aroma is wonderful and the leftovers are even better. With friends and family present when the pork came out of the oven, on the excitement, I forgot to photograph the finished product so you will have to take my word for it that it was perfectly crackled all over!



Today we ” killed ” the pig

2014-11-05 - Sausage Making 1 2014-11-05 - Sausage Making 22014-11-05 - Sausage Making 32014-11-05 - Cacciatore


There is a saying in Italian “Cu si marita e cuntentu nu iornu, cu mmazza nu porcu e cuntentu n’annu” – Marriage gives you happiness for one night, but the pig gives you happiness for a whole year. There must be more recipes for salami and sausages than there are Italians on this planet, and every Italian is convinced that his / hers is the best. My believe is, as with all my cooking, that the simple recipes, using very good quality ingredients, are the best, allowing the enjoyment of the foods without having to camouflage it with unnecessary ingredients and processes.  Sausage and salami making is one of my great passions which I practiced for many a year. Traditionally the pig is killed once a year and every bit of the pig is used and the saying is that only the toenails are discarded. The way I eat sausages, fortunately, allows me many sausage making days during the year. Not having a pig to fatten in the back yard (only because Mrs Back Yard Farmer does not allow me to) means that you need to find and befriend a good butcher in the area as quality ingredients of the correct cut and animal are of utmost importance.

This week I made Sacicce di Manzo (Beef Sausages), Salcicce alla Cacciatora (Pork Sausages) and a few Salamini. For dinner on sausage making day, I traditionally serve some spiedini (skewers) using the various types of sausages produced on the day. The picky eaters (grand kids) could not get enough of the skewers so I consider the day a success!


4 Kg heavy smoked bacon

4 Kg veal topside

2 Kg lamb or venison leg

4 Kg pork leg

4 Kg pork shoulder

2 – 3 Kg pork back fat (Depends on the fat content of the meat)

100 g balck pepper

220 g salt

All the meat should be without bones. Grind all the meat though the coarse grid on your mincer. Mix well after adding the salt and pepper. Let it rest for 12 hours in the fridge. Grind again and fill the skins.

The way to cook these is either on the open fire or in a pan, using one cup of water and one tablespoon of vinegar.