Ginny's Tuscan-Style Rabbit
1 rabbit, cut into 5 pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 can beef broth
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup pearl onions, blanched and skinned
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper. Brown the pieces in the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. You might need to do the rabbit in several batches. Remove the rabbit to a large platter as it becomes browned.
When you have finished browning all of the rabbit pieces, sauté the sliced onion in the same skillet over medium heat until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook one minute more. Add the rabbit back to the pan with any juices. Stir in the bay leaves, rosemary sprig and thyme. Add the sugar, flour, vinegar, beef broth and dried cherries. Stir to coat the rabbit pieces.
Cover the skillet tightly and place in a 350° oven. Braise the rabbit for 1 hour stirring once half way through. Check the liquid level, and add a splash or two of red wine if the dish gets too dry. Check the rabbit for tenderness. It may need up to 20 minutes of additional cooking time depending on the size and age of the rabbit. Ten minutes before the dish is finished cooking, add the pearl onions and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the rosemary sprig, and bone the rabbit, if desired. Serve over soft polenta, and garnish each serving with some of the toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.
Serve with Mosby Winery Teroldego to six good friends!