Stefano Manfredi's first home in Australia was the Bonegilla migrant camp in north-eastern Victoria where he and his family were "dumped" when they arrived from Lombardy in 1961. Fifty years and a bevy of acclaimed restaurants later and the Manfredi name is synonymous with intelligent Italian cooking. "The success of this dish, as with all Italian cooking, is reliant on the quality of the ingredients," says Manfredi. "Don't be tempted to substitute balsamic for the red wine vinegar. There is far too much balsamic vinegar used these days and it should stop. Really."
- 1 rabbit (about 1.2kg), jointed into 6-8 pieces (see note)
- 175 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 celery heart, finely chopped
- ½ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
- 250 gm puréed ripe tomatoes (1-2 tomatoes)
- 50 gm green olives (such as Nocellara del Belice or other large green Sicilian olives) (6 large)
- ¼ cup chopped oregano
- 2 tbsp large capers in vinegar, drained, well rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 125 ml red wine vinegar (½ cup)
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1Wash rabbit pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 80ml oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat, add rabbit and fry until well browned (5-7 minutes). Set aside, wipe pan clean with paper towels and heat remaining oil in pan over low-medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until transparent (6-8 minutes), then throw in celery heart and parsley, and stir for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, olives, oregano and capers, and simmer until sauce is reduced slightly (8-10 minutes). Add rabbit and stir to coat, season to taste, then cover with a lid and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until rabbit is just cooked (10-12 minutes).
- 2Combine vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Add to rabbit, increase heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has evaporated (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside covered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours to cool to room temperature and for flavours to develop. Serve with grilled vegetables.
Ask the butcher to joint the rabbit for you.
Drink Suggestion: Juicy young red made from the Sicilian nero d’Avola grape. Drink suggestion by Max Allen