The Italian Academy of Cuisine, La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy (2009), page 557. Rizzoli Publications, Inc. Translated by Jay Hyams.
About the Book
This beast of a cookbook clocks in at 928 pages, and contains 2,000 regional Italian recipes. Its instructions are spartan, but the book is filled with bona fide hits. La Cucina comes about thanks to the hard work of the Italian Academy of Cuisine (founded in 1953), whose self-proclaimed primary purpose is, “the safegaurding of Italy’s culinary traditions.” Italy is a big country, and the food is vastly different from one region to the next. This book allows you to explore and celebrate those differences.
What’s the Dish?
This is a braised rabbit dish, but unlike many braises, this one stays light and very fresh tasting. The rabbit is broken down into small pieces, bathed in water and vinegar, then cooked with garlic, white wine, chili flakes, tomatoes, and a wide array of fresh herbs.
Number of Attempts
All of the fresh herbs are listed as “to taste,” so there is a certain amount of personal flourish required. So while it’s not a “modification,” the dish will come out a little different each Tim
Mostly good surprises, in fact. One of my main goals with this blog is to learn about cooking, and to do some things (recipes, foods, techniques) I haven’t done before. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked rabbit, and I didn’t come across anything which really threw me. Also, any time you work with a whole (or mostly whole) animal, you begin to appreciate it a little more.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that there are many vagaries in this cookbook. For this recipe, there were two big ones
- As mentioned above, all of the fresh herbs are listed as to taste. I used it as an opportunity to make it a very fresh herb-laden rabbit dish, and liked the results. But I am curious to know how it is typically prepared.
- “Cut the rabbit into small pieces.” That, as you can imagine, is a little annoying. I went by instinct and did the best I could while also keeping much of the meat on the bone.
- As I had never cooked rabbit before, I’ve also never had experience breaking one down. Thankfully there’s the Internet, so I was able to find a good website to reference.
How Was It?
The fresh, bright ingredients really come through in this, and while the rabbit certainly wasn’t at all tough, I wouldn’t have minded a little more tenderness. My favorite parts were the pieces cooked on the bone, and eaten with my bare hands. Those seemed to stay fairly tender.
Would I Make It Again?
For people who haven’t had rabbits before but are interested in trying it, this is a very good recipe to use. All of the other ingredients are very familiar in Italian food, and would let the diner focus on the rabbit. As for me making it again? I’d probably skip it, but only out of a desire to try some of the other preparations in the book — like the cacciatora