Flavors at once rich and intense, subtle and simple come from the kitchen of smiling, bright-faced Pina Borgiovanni, at the Osteria dell'Unione in treiso, near Alba. Pina's favorite dish is an exquisite platter of tender rabbit in a thick sauce made from Barolo, sweet red peppers, cloves and cinnamona dish for cooks short on money, long on time.
For best results, be certain to use a rather high-alcohol wine (about 13 percent). The marination serves to tenderize the meat without denaturing it.
Great Comfort Food Recipes
2 cups tannic red wine, such as Barbera, Barolo or Côtes du Rhône
1 onion, halved lengthwise and studded with 3 whole cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Bouqet garni made with 2 fresh bay leaves and a large bunch of thyme tied with kitchen string
1 cinnamon stick, halved
2 large red bell peppers
Sea salt and black pepper
How to Make It
Combine the rabbit, wine, onion, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the bouquet garni and the cinnamon. Let marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, turning the rabbit occasionally.
Meanwhile, roast the bell peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler as close to the heat as possible, turning often, until charred all over. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag and set aside to steam for 10 minutes. Scrape off the blackened skins and remove the stems, seeds and ribs. Cut the peppers lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide-strips.
In a large nonreactive flameproof casserole, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until hot but not smoking. Remove the rabbit pieces from the marinade, pat dry and season lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Add the rabbit and its marinade to the casserole and bring just to a simmer over moderately high heat. Add the bell pepper strips and reduce the heat to very low. Cover and simmer the rabbit gently, turning occasionally, until fork-tender, about 2 hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rabbit and the pepper strips to a platter and cover to keep warm. Strain the sauce and wipe out the casserole. Return the sauce to the casserole and boil over high heat until thick and glossy. Return the rabbit and peppers to the casserole, cover and cook over low heat, turning once or twice, until heated through, about 5 minutes.
The rabbit can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Reheat before serving.
Try a Barbaresco, a wine with a perfect acid balance, custom-made for a region where food is hearty and copious.
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