Spring still seems far off to me; some days it snows and the cold has not yet eased up. Here in Piedmont we are surviving thanks to the dishes prepared by my mum, Paola, which bring cheer to the cool early March weekends. And here I offer you her recipe for Rabbit with Barolo, “her way” and simply spectacular:
One rabbit, 4-5 red peppers, one celery stalk, 3 carrots, rosemary, 6-7 whole cloves, one cinnamon stick, a grating of nutmeg, one large onion, 3 bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, a pinch of oregano, Barolo wine, olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of rum or cognac.
Cut the rabbit into pieces and wash it (better with a little wine!), put it in a large bowl together with the rosemary, bay leaves, garlic, onion cut into 4 parts, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped carrots, and diced celery and red peppers.
Cover the whole with the Barolo wine and let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Next, take the pieces of rabbit, drain and dry them carefully.
In a very large saucepan slowly brown the rabbit in oil with garlic and more rosemary.
This procedure requires patience because it is important to brown the rabbit very well and uniformly. Add salt and pepper. Add the drained vegetables, dusting them with a pinch of oregano and cook them until they are as tender as possible. Then add the wine.
Ten minutes before the cooking is complete, drain all of the vegetables together with the liver, put them back into the saucepan and add 2-3 tablespoons of rum or cognac, letting it evaporate a little.
Serve with piping hot polenta.
In this case I have no doubts about the pairing: Langhe Nebbiolo 2008, the soft tannins join elegantly with the delicate meat of the rabbit, a true delicacy!