Palma of Palmabella's Passions chose this week's recipe for our Sunday Slow Suppers group. For those of you who don't know Palma, ANY recipe that she picks is bound to be good! Here is what she said about it:
Notes About the recipe:
The first time I made this I used a rabbit, and it was amazing. The scent in the kitchen was heavenly. Using chicken thighs, it has become a standard at our house. It is also a great company dish, as it requires very little last minute effort once it is in the oven. It's great with chicken, but if you can find/deal with eating a rabbit, it is worth the expense.
Secondly, if you use chicken thighs, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND keeping the skin on. I know we all use skinless chicken to cut down on fat, but that would be a shame with this preparation. If you must discard the skin, at least cook it with the skin on, TAKE A BITE of the luscious, crispy, pancetta-topped, salty, crunchy stuff where all the flavor is, and THEN take it off, and stare at it on the side of your plate. Trust me, please... just do it for me.
Finally, I am posting the original recipe. I have made it so many times, I have simplified the preparation somewhat. Read the whole recipe, and then I will tell you what I do.
I was going to be brave and actually use rabbit, but I changed my mind when I got to the market. The rabbit was whole, for one thing. I know the butcher would have cut it up for me, but I guess I was looking for an excuse, so I bought chicken thighs instead. I think that for me, rabbit must fall into the category with goat and horse meat, which I will NEVER eat because of the association with our pets.
The chicken thighs turned out great! I left the skin on, as Palma had suggested, and baked them according to the recipe. My veggies got a little over-carmelized (aka burned), but they were delicious nevertheless. We ate it over brown rice to soak up the sauce. Yum!
Coniglio al Forno con Finoccio
From the original recipe from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynn Rossetto Kasper
2 1/2-2 3/4 lb rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
or 8 chicken thighs
Seasoning the Rabbit:
1 large clove of garlic (I used 4)
1 1/2 inch sprig of rosemary (I used 4)
1/2 t. salt (I'm sure I used a t. of sea salt)
1/8 t. pepper (you got it)
Cooking the Rabbit:
2 bulbs fennel cut into 1 1/2 " wedges
1 large onion, cut into 1 1/2 " wedges
3 oz. pancetta, minced
3 cloves of garlic, split
1 t. fennel seeds
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fennel leaves
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine
1/4 c. white wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
The rabbit or chicken tastes best when seasoned one day ahead. I blended the first four ingredients in the food processor with a drizzle of olive oil to make a paste. Rub on the rabbit pieces, and refrigerate overnight in a ziplock.
Two hours and 15 minutes before you would like to eat, preheat the oven to 350. Use a roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold the rabbit pieces and onions and fennel. Scatter fennel, onion, pancetta, garlic, and fennel seeds around and between the pieces, and put half the fennel leaves on top. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes.
Add wine, and roast for another hour. Baste every 15 minutes with pan juices. If pan becomes too dry, add a little more wine or water. (Mine was nice and juicy.)
Raise the heat to 450. Cook 15 more minutes until rabbit becomes golden brown. Turn rabbit pieces, and roast another 15 minutes, basting once more. Veggies should be caramelized.
Transfer rabbit and vegetables to a heated platter and keep warm in the oven while you make a quick pan sauce. Set the roasting pan over two burners on high heat, and deglaze with the wine and stock. Scrape any brown pieces from pan and boil down liquid to about half. (Be careful of heat level if you are using a pyrex pan). Deglaze for 3-5 minutes. Scatter remaining fennel leaves over rabbit and serve sauce in gravy boat or bowl alongside rabbit.
Note by Palma:
You definitely can reduce the oil to 2 T.. Chicken is more juicy than rabbit, so you should not need to add any liquid. I only baste once, not every 15 minutes. Have a small pan ready on the stove for juices. Remove rabbit/chicken, and veggies to platter, and pour remaining juices in to reduce with a splash or wine or chicken broth. It is easier to manage than a large baking dish on the two burners. You may cut the recipe in half , but you WILL WANT leftovers! If you want, you can skip the pan sauce all together. I love this with grilled veggies and lemon-garlic orzo.