Coniglio alla Molisana
Region: Italy, Molise
Category: Rabbit and Game
Difficulty: Labor Intensive
There are all kinds of recipes in Italy for rabbit, wild rabbit, and hare. In Sicily, they grill wild rabbits with a marinade of olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and oregano. In central Italy, hare is spit-roasted with olive oil and flavored with bay leaves, parsley and cloves. Sometimes the grilled hare is served with a sauce made from the liver and blood of the hare and chopped onions, stock, wine, and lemon juice. In thre province of Sondrio in Lombardy a preparation called lepre con la crostada is a spit-roasted hare which is then stewed in cream and crushed macaroons. Calabrians like to marinate the hare in vinegar and scallions overnight and then skewer the meat with pancetta and bay leaves before grilling.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 1:45 hours
Several handfuls of fresh or dried rosemary, oregano, and marjoram twigs
1 rabbit (about 3 pounds)
4 links (about 1 pound) mild or hot Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 paper-thin slices prosciutto (about 1/4 pound)
12 large fresh sage leaves
Four 10-inch wooden skewers
Extra-virgin olive oil for basting
1. Prepare a low charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on low. Toss several handfuls of mixed dried or fresh herb twigs onto the fire or in the wood chip burning receptacle of a gas grill.
2. Because there is not an abundance of meat on a rabbit, slice the meat very close to the bone, using a boning and paring knife and trying to keep the pieces as large as possible. (Save the bones for the rabbit stock used in Pappardelle with Rabbit Sauce). Put the rabbit and sausage pieces in a mixing bowl and toss with the parsley, rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Lay a piece of rabbit on a section of a paper-thin prosciutto slice and roll up. Skewer the rolled-up rabbit with a sage leaf and a sausage piece, in that order, until all the ingredients are used up.
4. Place the skewers on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 1 hour. Baste with olive oil during grilling.
Variation: Alternatively, instead of rolling the rabbit pieces in prosciutto, cut the prosciutto into 1/8-inch thick 1-inch squares and skewer with the rabbit and sausage.