My local butcher shop is really a gourmet boutique. It's owners, Giovanni and Franc, virtually introduce you personally, one by one and with a lot of paw shaking, to the animals that gave the meat they sell (lol, I am no vegetarian!). What's more, the prices are incredibly pop. Naturally this is only possible beacuse I have the very good fortune of living in the hills of Monferrato, in Piedmont. It is not surprising then that over the years a large number of my Turin's friends have fallen into the habit of stocking up on meat every time they come visiting. I myself, during my 'German years', used to regularly export (possibly illegally, who knows?!) 3 or 4 weeks worth of supplies in the car boot.
No surprise then when the other day Giovanni sold me a rabbit with the recommendation to cook it for about 15 minutes longer than usual, since it came from the rabbit hutch of his neighbourgh. Hence, it had been lovingly raised and nurtured as was always done on our farms, eating grass rather than pelleted feed. It was laso clear that its life of rabbit 'as of old' had lasted well over the classical eye blink of the industrially farmed animal.
I could not but honor this beauty by using it as the main ingredient of an ancient recipe of the Asti tradition: the coniglio "dos e brusch" (literally, sweet and sour rabbit) as illustrated by the maestro Giovanni Goria in his manual Cucina del Piemonte Collinare e Vignaiolo - a real must for anyone interested in real Piedmontese food.
a rabbit, chopped into pieces
2 tbs olive oil
garlic and rosemary
1 tbs flour
1 bottle of red wine (preferably a young Barbera) 1 / 2 glass wine vinegar
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
5 juniper berries
1 piece of cinnamon
1-2 handfuls of dried macaroon biscuits (amaretti)
Sautè the rabbit in a pan with the oil, garlic and rosemary, salt and pepper. When sealed dust it with the flour and cook for a couple more minutes.
Transfer the rabbit pieces to a large casserole then add the wine, vinegar, sugar, cocoa, cloves, cinnamon, juniper berries and nutmeg. Check the salt.
Cover and let simmer until the rabbit begins to break away from the bones, turning occasionally.
Remove the lid and finish by turning up the heat to reduce the sauce. Finally sprinkle with the crumbled macaroons and serve, preferably with polenta.