Pasta with Rabbit and Chanterelles

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The saddle or loin midsection of the rabbit cooks in much less time than the legs, so the cook is faced with a problem similar to that presented by chicken or duck: If you cook the bird until the thighs are done, the breast is overcooked. The best way to handle rabbit is to separate the legs from the saddle and slowly braise the former but quickly roast the latter. In this pasta dish, you do not have to include both sections of the rabbit but could use just braised legs. It is difficult to overcook rabbit legs; they just get more tender as they cook and do not dry out. Pull the meat off the bones, strain the braising juices, reduce them a bit, add butter or cream, and you have a wonderful sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • ¼ pound butter
  • 1 pound fresh chanterelles
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • ½ pound white fettuccine
  • ½ pound green fettuccine
  • ½ cup tomato concasse
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

Cut the rabbit up, separating the saddle from the hind and front legs. Bone the saddle. Braise the legs with the bones. Season the inside of the boned saddle with salt and pepper and stuff with ½ tablespoon thyme and the rosemary. Roll up the saddle and tie it with string.

When the legs are braised, let them cool and then pull the meat off the bones in bite-size pieces. Strain and reserve 2 cups of the braising liquid.

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the saddle with 1 tablespoon of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes; then let sit in a warm place. Remove the strings.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan. Put in the chanterelles (sliced, if large) and toss in the butter. Add the garlic and the remaining 1 tablespoon thyme. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring or tossing occasionally. When the mushrooms are tender, add the reserved stock.

Put the fettuccine in the boiling water and stir until the water comes back to the boil.

Increase the heat under the mushrooms to high and cook 1 minute. Add the braised rabbit meat, the tomato concasse, parsley, and remaining 5 tablespoons butter. Toss or stir together until the butter is incorporated. Drain the pasta and add it to the rabbit ragout. Toss together and serve on warm plates. Slice the saddle meat and put in the center of each serving of pasta.

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