There is no trattoria in the Ligurian countryside that does not offer “Ligurian braised rabbit” in its menu. There is no family that does not have a nonna’s recipe in the drawer.
In fact, rabbit is one of the icons of traditional Ligurian cuisine born, as often happens, from necessity. The Ligurian territory of course is not suitable for intensive cattle breeding so in Liguria red meat has always been a luxury for a few or for those living in the city. The meat consumed (very little compared to other Italian regions) was therefore mainly white and came from the courtyards: poultry and rabbits, above all, and some lamb. Occasionally a pig, bred with dedication and then slaughtered in the autumn to make sausages to last all year long.
Every valley in Liguria has its own rabbit recipe but all, to tell the truth, are similar in the main ingredients, in addition to the rabbit of course: pine nuts, Taggiasca olives, aromatic herbs, extra virgin olive oil and wine.
On the wine that accompanies, season and enhances the dish there are two great currents: those who cook it with white wine and those who pour red wine.
In Western Liguria, where this dish is really common, it is prepared with red wine: Rossese di Dolceacqua red wine in the extreme west, Ormeasco in Alta Valle Arroscia and in the area of Albenga. In the rest of Liguria it is more common to see it prepared with white wine, maybe Pigato or Vermentino. In our family we are in the white side!
Tradition would like, also, that rabbit is cooked in a crock saucepan only dedicated to it (I used a normal pan, I beg your pardon).
You will see that in the recipe I suggest to prepare a quick rabbit broth to wet the meat in cooking. It’s a really interesting tip that I learned from the starred and proudly Ligurian chef Giuse Ricchebuono, who made the Ligurian rabbit revisited its flag.
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