Coniglio All’Ischitana e Frittelle di Zucchini

Braised Rabbit and Zucchini Fritters

There are some films which momentarily transport you to another time or place as the story unfolds and then there are those which when finished have a more lasting effect and allow your mind to wonder and wish you had lived in that time or place. For me, one film that produces the latter effect is ‘The Talented Mr.Ripley’. Aside from the playboy lifestyle and amoral / sinister behaviour and eventual murder the viewer is immersed in an idyllic lifestyle spanning various parts of Italy. One of those places is the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, now a heaving tourist destination, back then it was as traditional and untouched as Islands come.

On Ischia, rabbit is the major source of protein as the steep hills make farming larger animals near impossible. The Italians have a vast variety of preparations for rabbit and this was the first I tried. In Valencia where I lived for the past year, rabbit was the main meat in the traditional Valencian Paella, it was therefore cheap and very available which is much more than can be said for England. Rabbits there were lean and flavoursome, so I was shocked at the large size of the rabbit I picked up from my butchers here but left wanting by the reduced gaminess of the meat.

This braise is quick and for me it is more of a summer dish so to accompany I made some light and creamy Zuchinni fritters by adding a few tablespoons of ricotta to the mix. It was the first time I had made them and I was so happy with the result. They would go great on their own or as a side to other things.

I am in Northern India for the next 3 weeks so this will be the last post for a while.

Coniglio All’Ischitana

Recipe adapted from the fantastic book ‘Al Dente’ by William Black. Serves 4

1 rabbit of around 1.5kg

olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

150ml red wine

500g plum tomatoes, chopped or tinned

a couple of thyme, marjoram and rosemary sprigs

small handful of fresh basil

salt and pepper

Ask the butcher to cut the rabbit into large chunks, or do it at home yourself. Wash and pat dry before browning in batches in hot, smoking olive oil in a large casserole or flameproof terracotta pot. Add the garlic and chilli and replace all the browned rabbit.

Add the wine and bring to a boil to reduce slightly over a high heat before adding the tomatoes. Reduce the head to medium and add the thyme, marjoram and rosemary sprigs. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the basil 5-10 minutes before serving to leave a fresh, fragrant flavour.

The dish can then be served as it is, or for a thicker sauce (like I have done), remove the rabbit chunks and reduce the remaining sauce to the desired consistency. Passing through a chinois once or twice for an even more refined texture.  Serve with zucchini fritters, the red wine used in cooking and bruschetta.

Frittelle di Zucchini

Makes 5-6 large fritters

2 medium zucchini

coarse salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Freshly ground black pepper

70g all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons ricotta

Olive or another oil of your choice, for shallow frying

Grate the zucchini or shred in a food processor into ribbons. Then mix through a teaspoon of course salt and place in a colander or sieve over a bowl with a weight on top to squeeze out the liquid (add extra pressure yourself to help squeeze out even more). Alternatively, place in a cheesecloth, tie and squeeze. Removing as much liquid as possible is vital to the mixture holding.

Then combine the rest of the ingredients with the zucchini in a bowl adding a little more salt if desired. When well mixed, leave in the fridge until ready to fry.

To fry, I used a cast iron skillet and poured a thin layer of oil in the bottom. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add a large spoonful (a serving spoon) of the mix to the pan, then flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. Leave for around two minutes before turning over with a spatula to fry for another couple of minutes or until lightly browned.

14 comments

  1. What a lovely dish! Cooking rabbit is a tradition not only in Ischia, but also in Sicily. One might think that rabbit is not a typical dish of the islands but a dish that would be prepared in the mainland. Just imagine how rich is the culinary culture of Ischia that even rabbit is cooked there(besides all the delicious seafood).

    1. So true, I definitely need to eat my way around the Islands. It is strange and a shame that in the UK it isn’t a more popular meat, after all it is so versatile and economical.

  2. Agi's Farmhouse Kitchen · · Reply

    Thank you for another way to cook rabbit. We have rabbit farms here in Vermont so it’s relatively inexpensive. And I’m going to make the zucchini fritters tonight, my garden is producing them like mad!

    1. How did the fritters turn out? I’m glad to be of service, I’ve got another rabbit dish I’ll cook when I’m back to the UK so keep an eye out!

  3. WOW –looks yummy! I’ll have to give this a try.

    1. please do, it is so satisfyingly simple.

  4. Beautiful dish! The rustic warmth of the rabbit stew marries so well against the vibrant green of the zucchini. What an amazing food journey you’re currently having, looking forward to hearing of those spicy tales of India & beyond!

    1. Thank you so much. Some seriously spicy and exotic tales to be told on my return!

  5. that looks absolutely delicious…

    1. thank you, very different to all the amazing Indian food I have been eating for the past week! Just completed the ‘Golden Triangle’ now heading North of Delhi to the Corbett and then Amritsar and Daramshala.. cannot wait. Having an amazing experience so far.

      1. good to know that you are enjoying Indian food…please don’t forget to post the photos when you get back to your home

  6. this looks wonderfully tasty! beautiful photos!

    1. thank you very much!

  7. Delicious looking rabbit.

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