Rabbit Ragout with Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta : Chanterelles, Olives and Pan Seared Rabbit Legs

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I’m been MIA for 30 days. Long story short, I moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver. And that involved selling my condo and my car, not to mention packing some and storing the rest of all of my stuff. I realized while packing that cooking has been a big deal around here for a few years. Not counting furniture (which I didn’t pack and instead included it with the sale of the apartment) 50% of all my crap was kitchen gear. I own a few guitars which would probably account for 35% of the total volume of my stuff. The rest was photography gear which happens to be a lot smaller and fit snuggly in my camera bag, solid and very valuable 15% of the total of my things. Ah , yes, I do own some clothes too, and they were scattered throughout my bags being used as padding for my kitchen equipment.

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Notice the bubble wrap printing on my scale…. so, I tried returning to my blog earlier, but it has been crazy lately. In a previous attempt, I prepared steak and eggs with a chorizo potato hash. Though delicious if I may say so myself, the presentation was a disaster, my sunny side up eggs broke when I transferred them to the plate (I only have stainless steel pots and pans here, I couldn’t find a nonstick pan for my eggs), then the plate I served it on was too small and everything together just looked overcrowded, like a pile of food on a plate out of one of those all-you-can-eat buffets in Las Vegas or I guess any all-you-can-eat place.., you know what I mean, an unappealing pile of food which I devoured immediately and regardless. I should mention that I’m temporarily living in a hotel room which has a kitchen and some gear. I’m still getting familiar with this malicious electric stove too.

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Vancouver is beautiful (with it’s rough patches of modernity like any big city). Vancouver markets and kitchen supplies stores are pretty awesome. I will be posting photos of some of these places in the future. The produce and ingredients are great, really good quality stuff. The fish, all of the seafood looks incredibly fresh and beautiful. I will be cooking more seafood in the upcoming weeks. Anyways, so last night was “blog” night and I decided to try something new/different after having been gone all this time. Here in Vancouver you can buy rabbit at the butcher shop. I’ve looked for rabbit in LA. Good luck (at farmers markets sometimes they can be found… again, good luck).  I snatched the little guy an ran “home”. I was also looking forward to making fresh pasta, specially in a hotel/condo room with foreign equipment and also some of mine. This rustic pasta recipe contains a few Spanish ingredients that complimented Mr. rabbit really well. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Here we go:

Ingredients (dinner for 2 with leftovers for next day):

1 whole rabbit, including liver and kidneys (about 2 kg)
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (or any good canned tomatoes)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup of fresh chanterelle mushrooms
5 pitted green olives,  chopped
5 pitted black olives, chopped
40g sliced spanish chorizo
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 medium shallots, finely diced
Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar
2 bay leaves
Olive oil as needed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Tagliatelle Pasta:

200g “00” flour
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 tsp olive oil

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I want to break down the preparation of this dish, which takes a couple of hours to make, give or take. Taking the photos added some overhead.  I didn’t have a pasta machine, but I had a wonderful fondant rolling pin I just got at a store called The Gourmet Warehouse. My tagliatelle were a little thicker than I would have hoped, about ~1.2mm which isn’t bad for a rolling pin and a total lack of experience rolling out pasta this way 🙂

1. Make pasta.

Combine the flour, eggs, salt and olive oil in a bowl. 1 egg per each 100g of flour is a very respectable ratio.

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But eggs and flours brands are different, so some adjusting might be necessary. Again, experience here makes the difference (I’m not the most experienced, but I still enjoy the task and want to get better at it), like making bread, pasta dough has a particular consistency, that is hard to put into words. There are many variations as well, some like richer pasta, and add extra egg yolks. We want a smooth and silky finish, so we’ll stick to double zero flour which is very very finely ground and add a little olive oil to achieve a more delicate texture.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, or you can do the well in the center of the flour mound… I don’t think it really matters as long as everything gets incorporated well.

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Knead a little bit, some gluten is still necessary to give pasta its flexibility and texture. About 3-4 minutes, until the dough comes together.

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Shape into a ball, cover it tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes at least.

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Now, it is time to roll out that dough. Find a good work surface, I used the dining table here in the hotel room, which has this pretty smooth top. Flour the surface slightly, make sure that you adjust this amount depending on how sticky the dough is. Hopefully it isn’t too sticky and little extra flour is needed. Roll out the dough, away from you, trying to make this long and flat ribbon. If you have a pasta machine, make sure this ribbon isn’t wider than the pasta machine. If you don’t, still try to keep the ribbon less than 20 cm wide. This will yield long noodles which I like. Here’s a link that explains better what I’m trying to say: Mario Batali’s Fresh Tagliatelle.

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Dust the sheet of dough with more flour making sure to remove any excess with a brush or hands. Now, roll up this sheet and using a very sharp knife cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips, then unroll.

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And there it is, hotel-made fresh pasta.

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2. Quarter the rabbit.

Cutting a rabbit is very straight forward but you do need a sharp knife.

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Removing the front and hind legs is very similar to removing chicken legs, find the joints and cut around it, trying to retain as much meat as possible. At this point you should probably open youtube and check how it’s done, because a written explanation is only going to be confusing, specially if it’s coming from me. I found this video which I think is really good actually:

3. Make rabbit stock.

Crush the ribcage bones with your knife. You could roast the bones in the oven but I opted for pan searing the bones, just quicker. Olive oil and a hot pan. Develop good browning on both sides. Cover with water, add a thyme sprig, salt pepper, some white wine if you have any good bottles around, and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, covered. Strain the stock and pour into a saucepan. Discard everything else.

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4. Poach legs in rabbit stock.

Poach the rabbit legs in the stock until 60C roughly (or 140F) at the core. Use a thermometer. Rabbit meat is very lean, and it will overcook easily. Take the hind legs, for example, they are as lean as a chicken breast, so gentle cooking is required. The stock doesn’t have to be boiling or simmering, actually its better if it isn’t. The closer to the goal temperature the stock is, the better, and the longer it will take to cook through. But it’s ok. Rabbit legs aren’t big. They should cook relatively quickly. About 10-15 mins poaching time. Once poached. Remove from the stock. And reduce the stock to about a third. Reserve this as well as we will need it for the ragout.

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5. Pan fry kidneys and liver.

These are extremely delicate and will cook very fast. We don’t want to overcook them either. Cooked to medium, medium rare is ideal. Toss in a hot pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  A couple of minutes. Done. Eat the liver before anyone gets to it….. Reserve the rest.

6. Sear rabbit legs and the loins.

After poaching them,  pat them dry with paper towels, and throw the legs in a hot searing pan, for a minute or 2 on each side, just to get a nice browning. Remove from the pan and reserve. The loins can be cooked this way as well.

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Add some salt. A really quick sear on loins is all we need, about 1 or 2 minutes on the pan, these can be cooked to medium rare no problem. They will be juicy and very tender. Deglaze the searing pan with a good splash of sherry vinegar and reserve.

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7. Brown mushrooms.

I like to cook the chanterelle mushrooms by themselves and later add them to the sauce, just so I can brown them a little bit. Add them to a pan, with some olive oil or butter. Don’t crowd the pan too much, although chanterelle mushrooms don’t have as much water as white mushrooms for example, and won’t easily stew. Anyways, add some salt, pepper, toss a couple of times to get more even browning and remove from the heat. Takes about 3-4 minutes.

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8. Make Ragout.

Olive oil, pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo, cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the shallots, sweat for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, cook but don’t let it brown, about 1 minute. Add tomato. Reduce and cook until color deepens.  Add the reduced rabbit stock. Add the deglazed juices.. Add 1 or 2 bay leaves. Salt and Pepper. Reduce until saucy. Takes about 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed. Remove bay leaves.

9. Combine.

Mix in the mushrooms with the olives into the ragout. Cut the tenderloins into small rounds. Mix everything together. Adjust salt and pepper.

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10. Plate.

Cut the kidneys in half. Place a good serving of pasta and sauce into a plate. Sit rabbit leg over the side of the pasta mound for good luck and add the kidney halves. Add some fresh thyme leaves and a good amount of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Buen apetito!

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