It is funny how many things adults do to kids in jest that stick with them for life. One such instance for me was with my pediatrician growing up. Every time I went for a doctors visit, he would ask me if I “had any hasenpfeffer lately?” He and my Mom would laugh but it used to creep me out. I had no clue what hasenpfeffer was at that age and it made me view my old, German doctor as Dr Jekyll. Probably not what he was going for!
It wasn’t until many years later when Chuck and I were traveling through Germany that I had hasenpfeffer for the first time. It was a lovely dish of peppered rabbit and one I would happily order (or even make) again if the opportunity presented itself.
Of the four times in my life that I can remember eating rabbit, two of those times were when Dad went hunting and came home with a rabbit. One of those times he had taken me along as sort of the ‘red-headed retriever’. We didn’t have a hound and I was excited to be out hunting with him so he would let me run out into the field to retrieve whatever he shot. At the time I thought it was a blast, but I am sure Dad and his hunting buddies thought the joke was on me.
Last weekend, while scanning the news on the computer, I stumbled across a ‘recipe of the day’ for Todd English’s Rabbit Pappardelle. It brought back memories of those couple of instances of having a nice piece of rabbit so we decided to make it for dinner. The only problem was that we couldn’t find any rabbit at the local grocery stores. Rather than give up on the recipe, we decided to make a substitution.
If you happened to grow up watching Looney Tunes, then you already know from the title how we solved our rabbit dilemma. Just like in the 1953 cartoon classic entitled ‘Duck! Rabbit, Duck!‘, where Elmer Fudd is out to shoot himself a fricasseeing rabbit (Bugs Bunny) and ends up with a fricasseeing duck (Daffy Duck), we made the simple substitution. The dish was superb!
Perhaps one of these days I will be able to make the original recipe if I find a rabbit or know a successful hunter during rabbit season. In the meantime, here is an excellent recipe for use during duck season. 😉
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 4 pounds duck — cut into serving pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 large spanish onion — finely minced
- 3 whole carrots — peeled and finely minced
- 3 stalks celery — finely minced
- 6 cloves garlic — finely minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves — finely minced
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 2 cups wild mushrooms — diced
- 15 ounces artichoke hearts — chopped
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 5 cups chicken broth — or water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 12 ounces pappardelle
- 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese — grated
- Place a 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat and, when it is hot, add the oil. Sprinkle the duck with the salt and pepper and add it to the pan, one piece at a time, making sure the pan is hot prior to each addition. Cook until the duck is lightly browned, about five minutes per side. Cook in batches if necessary. Remove the duck from the pan and set it aside.
- Reheat the pan and add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring well after each addition and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rosemary, bay leaves, and mushrooms. Add the artichokes, red and white wines, balsamic vinegar, broth and the reserved duck pieces. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced by one half, about one hour.
- Remove the duck(letting the ragu continue to simmer) and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the meat and discard the skin and bones. Set the meat aside.
- Continue cooking the ragu for an additional ten minutes. Remove from heat; add the milk, butter and reserved duck meat to the pan.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and add pasta to the ragu. There should be a little more sauce than pasta.
- To serve, place in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve immediately.
NOTE: Modified from Original – “Todd English’s Rabbit Pappardelle printed from Bing Food and Drink App 2013”. Original recipe uses two 3-pound rabbits and two cups of tomatoes instead of the artichokes.