SERVES 6 - 8
Armando Pasetti, who created this dish, often liked to serve it with soft polenta. When he did, he always made extra sauce.
2 3-lb. whole rabbits
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 whole cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup Chicken Stock
1. Lay each rabbit on its back. Using a sharp knife, cut off hind legs at the joint near the backbone. Cut under shoulder blades to remove forelegs from rib cage. Trim off rib cage on either side of loin and discard, then trim neck and tail ends of loin and discard. Cut loin crosswise (through backbone) into 2-3 pieces.
2. Put porcini in a small bowl, cover with warm water, and soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Lift porcini from soaking liquid with a fork and finely chop; discard liquid. Transfer porcini to a large nonreactive bowl and add onions, garlic, parsley, oregano, cloves, oil, vinegar, and bay leaf, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add rabbit pieces and rub with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add rabbit with marinade, and sauté until meat is brown on all sides, 5-10 minutes. Add wine and cook until alcohol has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping any brown bits from bottom of pan.
4. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, turning pieces occasionally, until rabbit is just cooked through and tender but not dry, 30-40 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until sauce thickens slightly, 5-10 minutes. Remove bay leaf, adjust seasonings, and serve with polenta, if you like.