Saturday, December 26, 2009

Twelve Days: A Very Local Christmas


This year we celebrated Christmas Eve Italian-style with the twelve fishes. Had we been on Long Island where I was raised, the meal might have been a local one. However, here in the Midwest, we're a bit more limited in our piscean options. So while we did serve Rushing Waters Trout from Wisconsin and Mississippi River paddlefish caviar, we also ate King Crab from Alaska, east coast oysters, and Nantucket Bay scallops. Our more casual Christmas supper fit more with our locavorish tendencies with a Rabbit Ragout served on fresh fettucine.

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks Molly O'Neill's A Well Seasoned Appetite, a terrific gift for your favorite cook.

Rabbit Ragout
serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 rabbit, about 3 1/2 pounds, cut into 6 to 7 pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 large carrots, cut into small dice
3 stalks of celery, cut into small dice
1 bay leaf
1 branch fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups water
1 medium onion, quartered
2 cups roasted tomato puree
1 pound fresh fettucine
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large lidded saute pan over medium high heat. Brown the rabbit in batches if necessary. Add half the carrots and celery, the herbs, and white wine and simmer covered until the rabbit is tender, approximately a half hour. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Pull the meat from the bones, removing the bones to a medium saucepan and leaving the vegetables and braising liquid in the saute pan. Cover the bones with the water, adding the remaining carrots and celery with the onion. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the liquid is reduced by half approximately 45 minutes. Strain the stock into the saute pan, add tomatoes and simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. Add the rabbit and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve over fresh fettucine.


Fresh Pasta

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons canola oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
5-7 tablespoons cold water

Measure the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center. Put the egg yolks, oil, salt and 5 tablespoons cold water into the well, mix with your fingers of one hand. With a dough scraper or a butter knife, mix the flour into the liquid being careful not to break through the walls of flour until the majority of the water has been absorbed. Sprinkle the remaining water a little at a time while continuing to mix with the dough cutter. If the dough is dry, add the additional water.

Book Photos 015
Photo Credit, Stronghold Photography

Knead until relatively smooth – the dough will still appear to be slightly dry. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour to allow the glutens in the dough to relax.

Divide the pasta dough in quarters and work with one piece at a time, keeping the remainder refrigerated. Flatten the dough with your heel and put through the largest setting of the pasta maker. Fold the dough in half and put it through pasta maker, folded side first, eight more times. Roll the dough through the pasta maker 4 more times, reducing the setting each time and ending on setting 4. Hang the pasta sheets while rolling the remaining quarters. Cut the sheets into fettucine noodles.

Cook in salted boiling water for just a minute or so until el dente.

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