My dad is not a man that is readily impressed, particularly when it comes to food. Raised on an amazing Calabrian diet of generous portions lovingly prepared by my nonna, and cooking professionally for almost 45 years – the man’s seen it all. He is a human encyclopedia on food, wine and restaurants. So you may appreciate that when dad remarks on a meal, I take note.
His face lit up when he shared his experience of a meal he enjoyed on a Slow-Food* tour of Sicily. On this tour, my parents were equipped with a map marked with local restaurants and osterias, ancient cellars and vineyards, with and bid adieu on a self-driven treasure hunt of traditional foods prepared in their original style.
I love the way that this dish is paired with a sweet buttery carrot mash, rather than a sauce. It focuses your palate on the texture of the mince, the richness of the stewed rabbit lifted by the herbs and vegetables, and the freshness of the pasta. The dish dad had was simply drizzled with olive oil. I opted to pour a little of the stewing jus as I felt wasteful discarding all that liquidised flavour!
We are so fortunate that Melbourne understands that Italian food is not about bready pizza bases topped with pineapple, or pastas drowning in cream. In my experience, Italian food it about letting good produce shine. A typical lunch at my grandparents’ would feature pasta tossed with olive oil, broccoli and broad beans from their garden, crunchy parmesany crumbed chicken, a fresh salad with gigantic home-grown tomato and cucumber, home-brewed wine, fresh salamis, and chunks of crusty bread.
There is nothing quite like fresh pasta, and it is really not as laborious or impressive as it seems – flour, water, egg, knead, rest, roll, cut, boil. Done. OK, the rolling processes requires some elbow grease, but start with small portions and see how you go? At least you won’t have the added pressure of a parent critiquing your every move, and incessantly calling the rabbit, ‘wabbit’ a la Elmur Fudd.
Aside from the rabbit, I had everything in my pantry for this recipe. I picked up the rabbit for a modest $10 from my local butcher. The warm aroma of the stewed rabbit swirling around your kitchen is worth the effort alone.
Go on, you can do this.
What is Slow Food? Think the antithesis of fast food. In a nut shell, it is a global network of members, dedicated to preserving local food and traditions, and promoting awareness and appreciation of what we are eating, and where it comes from.
Members join a ‘convia’ – a local chapter working to promote the ‘good, clean and fair food’ mantra on the ground. The movement originated in Bra, Italy in 1986, and now has over 100,000 members. The projects range from local markets, to global projects and research. It is really quite fascinating! Read more here.
For the filling you will need:
- 1 rabbit
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 celery stick
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg
For the carrot mash you will need:
- 500g carrots
- 2 tbs butter or olive oil
For the pasta you will need: 1.6 cups (200 grams) of flour and 2 eggs.
For the Mash:
- Peel the carrots, chop roughly and place them in some salted boiling water until soft.
- Combine the carrots and the butter in a processor, or mash by hand until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
For the ravioli filling:
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the finely chopped carrot, celery and onion, and sauté until soft. Add the roughly chopped rabbit and fry until the rabbit is just golden brown.
- Add the wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the stock and stew on low heat for about half an hour.
- Strain out the vegetables and the rabbit, reserving the stock, and set aside to cool. Once cooled, remove all of the meat from the rabbit. Return the bones to the stock (for flavour) and let it simmer for a further 20 mins.
- Process the rabbit and vegetables to a fine mince (or chop very finely by hand) with a few table spoons of the jus or olive oil to get a moisture level you are happy with.
For the pasta:
- Flour your work space. Mound the flour on your workspace and create a well in the centre. Beat the eggs and place in the well. Gradually combine the flour, eggs, and a little water with your hands and knead until the dough is silky and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for at least half an hour at room temperature.
- On your floured workspace, roll out the dough as thinly and evenly as possible. Cut out circles about 12cm wide, ensuring that they are large enough to fold over a decent amount of filling. (I used a small bowl to cut my shapes). Transfer the pasta circles on to a floured tray.
- Place around 1 tbsp of the filling on each pasta circle. Brush the circumference of the circle with a lightly beaten egg. Then, fold the circle in half, making sure that there are no air pockets, and press the edges of your ravioli with a fork.
- Add the ravioli to a large pot of salted boiling water. They will be ready when they rise to the surface.
Dish the carrot mash on to a plate with two or 3 of the ravioli, drizzle with the jus and sprinkle with a little left over ravioli filling .