The idea to make something with rabbit was all Rob, as was the cooking. His love of a gamey meat sauce over pasta definitely highlights the Italian in him. As strange as it sounds, this kind of recipe is almost comfort food to him. So I let him cook for me, for our Sunday night date-night-in dinner.
This started with an idea Rob had to make a Wild Boar (yes BOAR) pasta sauce after watching an episode of Phil Rosenthal’s food travel show on Netflix. PSA: If you haven’t watched “Somebody Feed Phil” or its PBS predecessor on Netflix, DO IT NOW!!! Our local butcher didn’t have boar at the time (but its regularly on the list of meat they carry), but Rabbit Sausage was calling to Rob.
So, we came home with this rabbit sausage. Rob had actually had rabbit a few times before. Its got a slightly gamey taste but not nearly as strong as venison or even lamb (both things Rob loves). It actually would make a good introduction to “wild game” meats for someone who is skeptical. The sausage had fennel, garlic, and rose wine in it to round out the flavor, which made a great base for a bolognese.
Rob then came up with the rest of the sauce idea. He didn’t want to go with a heavy red wine style pasta sauce. He decided to combine elements from another of his favorites: marsala sauces. Therefore, a deglaze of marsala wine along with a few dried morel mushrooms went in the sauce to really highlight the flavors. Rob said he was seeing a lot of posts about it being morel season so that where that came from by the way.
When trying to decide his pasta selection, Rob ended up calling a bit of an audible. He originally wanted something like a pappardelle, thin and wide. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any at the store. He bought some fresh fettuccine instead. Last minute, he dug around our panty and found a package of Trader Joe’s gnocchi. He decided on the spot to go with that. His logic is that it feels like a traditional parring.
Wine Pairing: Barboursville Pinot Grigio
Barboursville is a local (if you call Charlottesville local to DC) winery. They make a very wide selection of wine covering both French and Italian styles. The Charlottesville area has an interesting mountainous terrain that seems to make it good for growing many different grapes. The nice thing is most of their wines (especially whites) are in the mid-teens to low twenty price range. This is pretty good for a nicer bottle of wine from a small winery.
The Pinot Grigio is generally pretty widely available in the Northern VA area. Its light and crisp as expected for a stainless aged wine. Flavor-wise, its pretty subtle without any one major flavor coming through to my taste. Its a good pairing to something like this meat sauce, where you don’t necessarily want a lot of competition and want something white.
Rabbit Sausage Bolognese
- 1 Lb Pasta of Choice
- 1 Lb Sausage Rabbit-based
- 12 Oz can Tomato prefer mix of puree and crushed
- 1 Yellow Onion finely diced
- 5 Garlic Cloves finely diced
- 1 Carrot finely diced
- 1/2 Cup Marsala Wine
- 3 Dried Morel Mushrooms
- 1 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 Tsp Oregano
- 1 Sprig Rosemary
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Heat a little olive oil over medium heat.
- Saute half the yellow onion for 3-4 minutes.
- Add half the garlic for another minute.
- Add the canned tomato, oregano, and balsamic. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- In a skillet or saute pan, heat a little olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the remaining yellow onion and carrot, saute for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the remaining garlic, cook for another minute.
- Add the sausage, cook through (about 6-7 minutes).
- Add the rosemary, morels, and marsala, allow to reduce for a minute or two.
- Add the tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.