Tom Colicchio learned to cook using Jacques Pepin's 1976 La Technique and 1979 La Methode. The books' lessons came in handy during an apprenticeship at the Hotel de France in Gascony, in southwest France. One morning, Colicchio showed up for work after a long night of drinking. "The chef took one look at me, said 'I have a job for you' and pointed at a box with a big, dead hare in it. Luckily, Jacques had written about prepping rabbit, so I knew what to do." Colicchio (an F&W Best New Chef 1991) perfected the dish below when he was working at Manhattan's Gramercy Tavern, braising the tender rabbit with sweet tomatoes, spicy soppressata and olives.
"Rabbit might be the perfect meat," says chef Jenn Louis of Lincoln in Portland, Oregon. "The animals are very easy to raise and the meat is lean but flavorful." Louis, who has lost and kept off 34 pounds, cooks a lot of rabbit at her restaurant and eats it often at home.
This warming rabbit curry, inspired by a northern Thai recipe, is light and brothy, tangy and very fragrant from the kaffir lime and dill. Curries in northern Thailand often include pla ra, a pungent type of fish sauce, but regular fish sauce makes a fine substitute.
"This is one of my favorite things on the planet," says Marco Canora about his savory rabbit stew. He loves sharing the recipe with his students because it's an opportunity to teach them about making battuto (similar to soffrito), a mixture of sauteed onion, celery and carrots that's the base for many Italian dishes.