Peirano uses only rabbits’ hindquarters for this dish; for home cooks, he says, it makes more sense to cook a whole rabbit cut into six pieces.
- 1 3-lb. whole rabbit
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
- 8 small sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 1⁄2-2 cups Oregon pinot gris
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup instant polenta
- 4-6 tbsp. half-and-half
- 1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
- 1 1⁄2 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 375°. Lay rabbit on its back on a cutting board. 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 pieces.
- Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add rabbit to skillet and brown well all over, 4–6 minutes per batch.
- Transfer rabbit to a medium roasting pan and scatter garlic and rosemary into pan. Break up sausage meat and add to pan. Add enough wine to pan that it reaches a depth of about 1⁄4“. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Tightly cover pan with heavy-duty foil, then pierce in 3 or 4 places to allow steam to escape. Transfer to oven and braise until rabbit is tender, 1–1 1⁄2 hours.
- Bring 2 1⁄2 cups water to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Gradually add polenta in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until polenta is very thick, 4–5 minutes. Stir in 4 tbsp. of the half-and-half. Add parmigiano-reggiano and gorgonzola, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir well. Thin polenta with remaining half-and-half, if you like.
- Divide polenta between 4 warm plates. Place rabbit on polenta, dividing hindquarter pieces between 2 of the plates and forelegs and loins between the remaining 2 plates. Garnish each plate with some of the sausage, 1 clove of the garlic, and 1 sprig of the rosemary.