Rabbit Ragu is one of the best ways to make the most out of a whole rabbit. Whether you like to hunt, or your butcher just had a great deal on rabbits, chances are you will have to buy the animal whole. I’ve already written about how to break down a rabbit but of course you still need to cook your rabbit segments. I serve this rabbit ragu with mafaldine pasta which is such a great noodle in my opinion.
There are three cooking methods you’ll need for this rabbit ragu recipe. For the legs and body meat they must be browned and then braised. For the spine, ribcage, and neck they must be boiled into a stock. While this recipe pairs the ragu with pasta, you can also serve rabbit ragu atop creamy polenta!
Start With The Rabbit Stock
When adding liquid to ragu recipes I don’t like to just add some extra water, but rather a flavorful bit of stock. Now, my recipe for rabbit ragu only needs about a half cup of rabbit stock, but don’t worry, you can use the rest for a delicious Rabbit Risotto!
In a pot add the rabbit ribcage and spine, along with the neck if you have it. Also add in a tablespoon of freshly cracked black pepper, a halved onion and a couple chunked carrots along with a tablespoon each of dry basil, thyme, and oregano. I don’t salt my stock since I use it for a variety of different recipes, but you can always add a pinch if you like. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let cook for about 2 hours.
Browning The Rabbit Pieces
In a dutch oven add some olive oil and bring the heat up to medium high. Add in your rabbit pieces and cook them until just browned. Yes, I know my picture above shows them too crowded. Do not crowd your rabbit. I ended up taking quite a few pieces out and doing it in batches. When the rabbit is cooked, set it aside.
How To Make Rabbit Ragu
Like with all ragu recipes we are going to start with a sofrito. Also called Mire Poix in French, this is simply a mixture of chopped celery, onion, and carrot. For this rabbit ragu recipe I use two long celery stalks, one large carrot, and one medium onion.
In the same dutch oven on medium heat add in the sofrito along with a pinch of salt. Stir everything around until the onion and celery cook down and the carrots soften. Scrape the bottom to bring up any bits of rabbit meat that stuck there.
Next add in 4 cloves of chopped garlic along with a quarter cup of red wine and a half cup of the rabbit stock. Continue to stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
Add the browned rabbit pieces back in along with 700-800 grams of crushed tomatoes. You can use canned or crush fresh ones yourself. Give the pot a good stir to make sure the liquid is uniformly distributed. Add a pinch of salt.
Bring the pot up to a boil. If you need more liquid to cover the meat completely just add more stock. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and put the lid on. Now it’s time to braise the rabbit for at least 2 hours.
Finishing The Rabbit Ragu
After two hours the rabbit pieces (that have bones) should just fall completely off. Remove all the meat from the dutch oven and use a couple forks to shred the meat.
Once all the meat is shredded and removed from the bones, add the meat back to the pot. Give everything a good mix and let simmer without the lid until it reaches desired consistency. I like there to be a little bit of liquid, but not much.
Adding The Rabbit Ragu To Mafaldine Pasta
This is one of my favorite pastas with ragu, even though it’s traditionally eaten with much lighter sauces. Oh well, maybe an Italian will yell at me. Follow the package instructions to al dente, as we will finish it in the sauce. I cook 100 grams per person when entertaining.
In a saucepan add one cup of ragu per person. How easy is that right? 100 grams of pasta for one cup of ragu. Turn the heat on medium and stir everything around. Do this while the pasta is boiling.
Once the pasta is al dente just lift it over right into the ragu. Don’t worry about shaking off the water, a little bit is okay as it will add a bit more salt to the dish. If you find the ragu too salty beforehand, just don’t add any to the pasta water. The blandness of the pasta should balance the extra salt. However as we’ve only been adding pinches of salt throughout cooking, you will probably need to boil the pasta in salty water.
Plate the pasta and grate over some tasty Gran Padano (or Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese. I also add my secret ingredient, cured egg yolk, for a real kick of umami deliciousness.
Rabbit Ragu With Mafaldine Pasta
- Dutch Oven (recommended)
For The Stock
- 1 Rabbit Carcass cleaned and segmented
- 2 litre Water more or less to fill the pot
- 1 tbsp Black Pepper freshly cracked
- 1 tbsp Basil dry
- 1 tbsp Oregano dry
- 1 tbsp Thyme dry
- 1 Onion cut in half
- 2 Carrots cut into 3-4 inch pieces
- 1 bulb Garlic cut in half
- Salt to taste (if you want to use this stock for other recipes then I would recommend avoiding adding salt so you can adjust later)
- 1 Rabbit Cleaned and segmented
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Carrot finely diced
- 2 stalks Celery finely diced
- 1 Onion finely diced
- 700 grams Crushed Tomatoes canned or homemade
- 1/4 cup Red Wine not cooking wine…choose something drinkable
- 1 pinch Salt add a little throughout the process as you keep adding more ingredients.
- 1/2 cup Rabbit Stock
- 500 grams Pasta I used Mafaldine, but really you can use anything you like
- 50 grams Butter
- 50 grams Gran Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1 Egg Yolk cured (homemade) (optional)
- In a pot add all the stock ingredients and boil for 4 hours. You might be able to get away with less, but if you have the time why not. Note: the rabbit carcass is comprised of the ribcage, spine, and neck. There can be quite a bit of meat left on the bones that's just too difficult to remove when segmenting.
- In a dutch oven add some olive oil and begin to bring the heat up to medium. Brown the rabbit pieces (legs and body meat) and then set them aside.
- Add the onion, celery, and carrots (soffritto) to the pan, give a pinch of salt, and stir it around. When the onion and celery begins to get translucent add in the red wine and the rabbit stock. Bring up to a boil.
- Add the rabbit pieces back into the pot and pour over the 700 grams of crushed tomatoes. If the rabbit isn't able to be completely covered then add some more stock until the meat is just covered. Give everything a good stir and a pinch of salt.
- Reduce to a simmer, put the lid on, and braise for 2 hours.
- Remove all the rabbit pieces from the braising liquid and shred them with a fork or two. The meat should fall right off the bone. Add the meat back into the braising liquid and mix it in. Let cook until more of the liquid is reduced.
- In a pot begin to boil water and then add the pasta. 100 grams per person
- In a pan on medium heat add the rabbit ragu. 1 cup per person. Also add a dab of butter if you want, I recommend it.
- When the pasta has cooked to al dente then carry it right over into the pan with the ragu. Give everything a good stir so the pasta is fully coated.
- Plate and grate over some gran padano cheese. You can use Parmigiano Reggiano if you prefer. I also like to grate over some cured egg yolk as it really kicks all pasta dishes up a notch.