Fashionable Food: Rabbit Sugo with Egg Pasta

Fashionable Food

Rabbit Sugo with Egg Pasta

Who’s making it and how you can make it yourself

By Lessley Anderson

Where It’s Being Made

Tabla Mediterranean Bistro, Portland, Oregon

The Tuscan dish called either rabbit ragu or rabbit sugo has been on the menu at this Mediterranean-focused restaurant since it opened five and a half years ago (they were ahead of the curve!). The chefs make their own pappardelle noodles and add dried porcini mushrooms and a little white wine to the mirepoix, tomato, and chicken stock braise ($12 for a half portion, $18 for a full). “We finish it with some Grana Padano, which is like the northwestern Italian version of Parmigiano,” says owner Adam Berger.

“We finish it with some Grana Padano, which is like the northwestern Italian version of Parmigiano,” says owner Adam Berger.

Bottega, Yountville, California

Chef Michael Chiarello loves rabbit, which he describes as a lean white meat that tastes like a cross between chicken and veal. He uses no tomatoes in his sugo, or sauce, and although he cooks the carrots, onions, and celery for a half hour, he only poaches the rabbit (marinated first in balsamic vinegar) for five to six minutes, rather than braising it for hours. He adds sautéed wild mushrooms to the sauce, and serves it with homemade garganelli noodles, which resemble penne ($19). “Right now I’m serving it topped with blanched asparagus tips and pea shoots,” says Chiarello.

“Right now I’m serving it topped with blanched asparagus tips and pea shoots,” says Chef Michael Chiarello.

Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn, New York

Chef Ryan Angulo leaves out the tomatoes and braises the rabbit in a vanilla-scented broth for what he serves as his Thursday blue plate special at this new restaurant. Angulo leaves one leg whole and serves it on top of the pasta, while the other leg is shredded and mixed with the noodles. He serves the dish with roasted radishes and radish tops ($21). “I think people have to try rabbit once; then they like it. That first time is the hardest,” he admits.

“I think people have to try rabbit once; then they like it. That first time is the hardest,” Chef Ryan Angulo admits.

Where to Find Rabbit

Rabbit is typically sold whole or portioned into two front legs, two back legs, and two tenderloins, which feeds about three people. Whole Foods carries it sporadically, and local independent grocers will sometimes have it. Better yet, buy it through regional farms selling sustainably raised, cruelty-free meat. You can also order it online from US Wellness Meats.

How to Make the Dish

If your rabbit came with giblets, set them aside or discard them. If you bought a whole rabbit, cut it up into pieces. Rinse the pieces and pat them dry. Coat them lightly in flour, salt, and pepper and brown them in olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid. Set the meat aside. Add mirepoix (diced onion, celery, and carrot) and minced garlic to the pot and sauté until soft. Deglaze with some wine (red or white). Add the rabbit and any accumulated juices back to the pot, along with some chopped tomato, chicken broth to cover, a bay leaf, and, if you like, dried porcini mushrooms. Cover and simmer for one and a half hours, or cook in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for about two hours, until fork tender. Cook the pappardelle. Tear the rabbit meat from the bones and toss it with the cooked pappardelle; garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.

Rabbit sugo provided by Bar Bambino

Lessley Anderson is senior editor at CHOW.