Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Rabbit is one of the all-time favourites of Tuscan and Chianti traditional country cuisine, along with other farmyard animals.

Its delicate meat is suitable for all sorts of different recipes: from the simplest roast to sauces, accompanied by the various vegetables, or flavoured with olives and aromatic herbs.

Francesco Sorelli, in his book “La Toscana di Ruffino” (photo by Sandra Pilacchi), uses rabbit together with another precious friend of the Tuscan table: pine nuts. Literally precious because in modern times, the gathering of pine nuts is labour intensive work, making them very expensive.

Yet the pine nut is used in common and rare preparations for its balsamic quality and the ability to change its taste slightly after being toasted. In this recipe it is used to thicken the mayonnaise and give it a very special taste.

Ingredients for 8 pralines (rabbit meat balls): 2 rabbits, 2 onions, 3 eggs, 50 grams of pine nuts, oil, pepper, salt, vinegar, 1 glass of Vernaccia wine, fresh pecorino cheese.

Slice a couple of spring onions, after removing the outer leaves, and cook them in little oil. Add the rabbit thighs and brown them on both sides. Once they’ve turned golden, add a glass of Vernaccia wine and let it reduce on a high heat. When it is completely evaporated pour in a glass of water a little at a time, turning the thighs occasionally for about an hour.

At this point the rabbit meat will be soft and you should be able to remove the flesh from the bones with your fingers. Chop it finely in a blender. In a bowl mix the meat with one egg, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of fresh grated pecorino cheese.

Mix well with a spoon and make little balls of about 3-4 cm in diameter. Crack an egg and use the egg white for the breading: dip the meat balls in the egg white and roll them in the breadcrumbs until they’re covered. Bring the oil to a high temperature and fry the pralines a few at a time until golden. Dry well and sprinkle with salt.

In the meantime prepare the mayonnaise using the remaining yolk and a whole egg : in the blender put a few drops of oil and a teaspoon of vinegar. While it’s mixing, pour the oil very slowly. Once it has reached the right consistency, add the previously chopped pine nuts and add a pinch of salt.

Serve it on brown paper and with a little bowl for the mayonnaise dip.

Francesco Sorelli – My Tales of Tuscany