I doubt that any serious food lover has not heard of the very respectable Matthew Fort. If you haven’t seen him gain weight by judging on the Great British Menu, providing enthusiastic and insightful feedback, you may have seen him with on the slightly less exciting Market Kitchen. Matthew is also the Food and Drink editor for The Guardian and is the author of several books, one of which I own – Eating Up Italy, Voyages on a Vespa.
Now, I remember some years back seeing our main man on Rick Stein’s Food Heroes (if memory serves). Rick visited Matthew for lunch, and Matthew was showing off an Italian specialty he called Tuna Rabbit. The texture of the rabbit was supposed to have some how been transformed to that of tuna. To me, that was interesting! I can’t explain why it stuck with me, the idea of flaky rabbit in olive oil. The issue was, when Matthew opened up the tuna rabbit batch, it had grown moldy and hairy. So I never got to see how it looked like, but I trusted that if Matthew Fort raved as much about it, it must be good.
So, I pick up Matthew’s aforementioned book two days ago, and flipping through, what do I find? A good recipe for Farro soup, Sfarrata. I also find the recipe for Tonno Di Coniglio subtitled Rabbit like Tuna. Matthew had this dish at a restaurant called Cascina Martini. He describes it as the inland version of tuna in oil and as being typical of the cooking of the people of Monferrato, which, having little access to seafood and finding canned tuna too expensive, came up with this dish. The recipe is quite simple and is as follows:
20-30 sage leaves
20 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
The rabbit must be cut and simmered in salt water until it’s ready to fall off the bones, at least 45 mins. Drain the rabbit and pull the flesh off the bones while the meat is still warm. Layer an earthenware container (use one with a small radius to save on olive oil) with rabbit seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with garlic cloves and sage, in at least 3 layers, seasoning each layer individually. Cover with olive oil put in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Serve on a bed of rice or some slightly bitter chicory leaves.
I am still waiting for the rabbit to mature in the fridge, and I’ll add some action shots of the dish itself when I decide what to do with it. But the picture looks delicious no?