Braised Rabbit with Tarragon, Grapes, and Porcini Polenta
La Zingara - Bethel, CT
Inspired by the game-heavy cuisine of ancient Rome, this comforting braised rabbit dish is brightened with puckery grapes.
4 to 6 servings
- One 2 1/2 to 3-pound rabbit, cut into 8 pieces and rinsed (you can have a butcher break down the rabbit for you)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 5 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup red, white, or a combination of seedless grapes, sliced in half lengthwise
- 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
- White truffle oil for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Dredge the rabbit in the flour and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat a medium braising pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the rabbit pieces to the pan and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
Add the celery, carrots, onions, and bay leaf to the pan. Sauté over medium heat until the vegetables have browned, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Return the rabbit to the pan and add 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. The rabbit should be about halfway covered. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven. Cook until the rabbit is falling off the bone, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, use a coffee or spice grinder to grind the dried mushrooms to a fine powder. Bring the remaining 3 cups of stock to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add the teaspoon of salt and the porcini powder. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Pour the polenta onto a baking sheet and spread it into an even layer. Let cool.
When the rabbit is done, transfer the pieces of meat to a plate and let cool for 30 minutes. Pull the meat off the bones and set it aside. Discard the bones.
Remove the bay leaf and half of the vegetables from the braising liquid; discard. Pour the remaining solids and stock into a medium saucepan and pulse with a hand-held blender until smooth. Return the rabbit to the sauce. Add the grapes and tarragon. Heat to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter.
Cut the polenta into squares. Place a square on each serving plate. Top with rabbit ragù. Finish with white truffle oil if using.