A Rabbit That Clucks –
Trick question: when is a rabbit not a rabbit – but.. a chicken? It is when you enjoy the delectable CHICKEN AGRODOLCE WITH PAPPARDELLE.
A signature dish of some regions of Italy – coniglio all’agrodolce – is made with rabbit and prepared in several different ways. The rabbit hops a path to tables in Piemonte in the North, the hills of Tuscany, and the forests of Campania. It has now even become a featured dish on the menus of regional Italian restaurants here in the US. It is great “eating” as hunters say, with no game flavor, tender and easy to prepare.
Looking back to our little kitchen in upstate NY, my father, Attilio, “hunter extraordinaire”, made sure our freezer was always full of game. We had all kinds from deer to quail – and also rabbit. It was one of my favorite things, and my father knew how to prepare it with unequalled skill. The way I liked best was “agrodolce” – sour and sweet. It was tender and almost sweet – the kind of flavor that made you lick your fingers. Oh… the sauce. Just before my first child was born my Dad asked me what he could cook for me. It took about 30 seconds for me to tell him that I required one of his amazing rabbit meals. I enjoyed and remembered it like no other. And yes, it resulted in a happy mother, and a very happy child.
In my household today, you probably won’t find one of those rabbit dinners, as there are no willing hunters. Also, we have over the years become so fond of some of our domesticated rabbit friends that it just wouldn’t seem right. What to do?
I have found that rabbit meat and chicken thighs are quite similar in texture, flavor, and are both easily acclimated to one of my favorite cooking techniques – braising. Caution: The fragrance coming from your kitchen will attract the neighbors.This braised dish using the chicken thighs is sure to fool your guests with its similarity to rabbit, and make them yell for more. The meat is unforgettably tender. The sauce has a tiny bit of sweetness which offsets the vinegar in the dish. The sauce is so lovely and aromatic, I can’t emphasize it enough. It is simply perfection with papardelle pasta, as seen here, with gnocchi, and also with the more traditional polenta. Try them all!! OOOOO how I love this dish! Hint at how much you will enjoy this: it ranks as one of “Tom’s Favorites”!
Bunnies have nothing to fear here but the chickens better hide! Chicken thighs are great candidates for several of the Italian regional preparations for rabbit that I happen to love. Here is one of them!
CHICKEN AGRODOLCE WITH PAPPARDELLE
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: about 50 minutes
1 lb. Pappardelle Pasta (wide) or gnocchi,or polenta cooked according to package directions
4 Chicken Thighs – boneless and skinless
Flour for dredging
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil + a little more if needed
3 Oz. Chopped Pancetta
2 Cloves fresh garlic chopped finely
1 Onion chopped
1 C. Dry Red Wine
1/4 C. Fresh Sage Leaves – chopped
1/4 C. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 C. Chicken Broth or stock
1 Tbsp. Butter
Dredge the chicken thighs on both sides in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Heat butter and oil in pan and brown both sides of the chicken pieces and remove them to a platter.
Add a little more oil if your pan is dry. Then add the pancetta, garlic, and onion. Cook at medium high for about 3 minutes.
Then add the wine and the sage and cook a couple of minutes more, stirring.
Next add the vinegar, sugar, and chicken broth to the pan. Stir in.Turn chicken pieces so they are coated with the sauce.
Now cover the pan and let simmer for about 40 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over once during cooking to make sure the chicken is well coated with sauce.
Remove the chicken pieces to a platter again and cut them into small strips.
Continue to simmer the sauce to reduce slightly for just a minute or 2.
Then strain the sauce into a sauce pan and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Just heat through.
Add the chicken pieces back to the sauce and pour over the noodles, gnocchi, or polenta – whichever you decide to use.
Garnish with whole sage leaves, and serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese.
Serve your CHICKEN AGRODOLCE WITH PAPPARDELLE with your favorite Chianti Classico or Montepulciano di Abruzzo. Prepare to be dazzled!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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