Rabbit Ragù with Ricotta Cavatelli, Lima Beans, and Ricotta Salata
La Fia, Merchant Bar, and Crow Bar, Wilmington, DE and Hearth Kitchen, Kennett Square, PA
- 1 pound high quality ricotta, drained in a strainer for at least an hour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- Semolina flour as needed
- 1 pound rabbit bones from rabbit used for ragù
- 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 rabbit
- 1/4 cup (or 1 stick) butter
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups rabbit stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups lima beans, blanched and shocked
- 1/2 cup grated ricotta salata
Make the cavatelli: mix together the drained ricotta, egg yolks, and salt. Add one cup of flour to the mixture and combine, continuing to add flour if the dough is sticky. (Note: there will be variance due to the water content of the ricotta, so add the flour in stages.)
When the dough feels good, divide into four pieces and roll each like a snake so that it’s a little thicker than a pencil. Cut into small pieces.
Lightly flour your surface. With your thumb, press and roll the piece of dough away from you so that it slightly curls behind your thumb. (Note: If you have a gnocchi paddle, feel free to use it, but if not, just roll out on a cutting board. The gnocchi paddle would give the pasta ridges if used.) Practice and use some semolina flour to prevent sticking. The cavatelli can be frozen on a sheet tray and held in containers until needed.
Prepare the rabbit: bone out the rabbit by removing all of the meat from the bones (you can ask your butcher to do this for you). Put the liver and other internal bits with the meat into the refrigerator.
Make the stock: in a stockpot, sauté the vegetables in a bit of oil until sweaty and translucent, but not colored. Add the rabbit bones along with the peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover with cold water and bring to a low simmer until the leg joints fall apart, about 2 hours. Strain the stock and reserve.
Make the rabbit ragù: grind the rabbit meat, vegetables, organs, and salt to taste through a meat grinder with a medium dye. Alternatively, you can finely dice the meat in your food processor. In a large braising pan, slowly melt the butter. Sauté the ground meat, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in the melted butter until the fats and juices begin to render, about 10 minutes.
Stir the flour into the pan and incorporate well. Stir in the white wine and then add enough rabbit stock to cover by an inch. Simmer on low until the meat and vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt. Simmer for another twenty minutes, adding stock if the ragù begins to dry out. Stir in the cream and simmer another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.
Cook the cavatelli: in a large pot of well-salted boiling water, cook the cavatelli until they float to the top, about 3 minutes. Use a basket strainer to remove the pasta and add the pasta and cooked lima beans to the warm ragù. Stir in and simmer a bit. Add some olive oil or butter, if you like, and more stock if the ragù is too dry. Plate in bowls and grate ricotta salata over the top. Serve immediately.