25 April 2010

Rabbit cacciatore

My son has the best nose in the family.  I was starting a cacciatore, rich with oil, garlic, and minced carrots and celery, when I added a wedge of Taza stone ground chocolate; Henry called from the family room, "I smell chocolate."  A dark piece to deepen the stew-sauce, red wine next, all bubbling thick and fragrancy, sweet, too.  That old rabbit confit next, pieces still emerging from fat all tender and moist, breaking into chunks just right for a drizzle-grey spring dinner, candelit and tableclothed, clothes still carrying sawdust and paint from afternoon projects.
My daughter stirred the sauce, breaking each tomato in the hot pan, keeping it thick.  For seasoning we added just a bit of fennel to the wine and chocolate, a last minute decision as my daughter smelled and rejected other herbs and spices.  A quick sauce ladled over spaghetti, a beautiful balance of tastes.
The last time I opened an Ioppa 2001 Ghemme I wasn't impressed; tonight's was different, and the nebbiolo-dominated wine opened with cherries and violets, soft with leather-like tannins, graceful and still fresh.  Cacciatore is known as hunter's stew, and the rabbit confit tasted better than most other meats would in the chocolate-and-wine-laced sauce, edible proof that raising rabbits in town is worth the effort.


  1. Thanks, it was good! We made it two nights in row, and made it with a lot of thyme on the first night. The chocolate and red wine was a fantastic addition, especially the chocolate. I've changed how I add wine to things in the past few years. Nowadays, I add it at the beginning, just after the garlic and onions and other minced things have sauteed, and reduce it quite a bit before adding the next ingredient, whatever it is. I like the flavor more and I like the modest amount of extra liquid, even when I add a lot of wine.