Pappardelle are broad, flat noodles which, when cooked, wind and fold themselves around a chunky meat sauce, as in this dish, based loosely on a traditional Tuscan one. If you cannot get or make pappardelle, tagliatelle or fettucine can be used instead. This is an ideal recipe for using up forequarters of hare if you have casseroled or roasted the saddle and legs. I have also eaten a similar dish up in the northern hills of Tuscany one wintry day, when wild boar was the meat cooked in this rich, dark sauce.
Strip the meat from the bones, and dice it. Fry the vegetables and garlic in the olive oil until wilted. Raise the heat, add the meat, and brown it briefly. Add the stock, the chocolate and the herbs. Simmer for about 40 minutes, uncovered, until the meat is tender and the sauce reduced. Stir in the raisins and pinenuts (if using), and cook for a few minutes to let the flavours mingle. Finally, add the balsamic vinegar. Stir the sauce into freshly cooked and drained pasta. It is the balsamic vinegar which leads me to describe the dish as being loosely based on the Tuscan classic. In Tuscany a red wine vinegar would be used; balsamic vinegar comes from over the Apennines in Emilia-Romagna. The deep, fruity complexity is a perfect counterpoint to the chocolate, however.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.