As a child, my Nonnas would slow-cook rabbit and the smell would permeate through the entire house. We would all sit as a family and enjoy company and stories together.

When I started cooking, the chef I was working under would take me to find wild mushrooms just as her parents had taught her, which I loved to do then and love to do now. Bringing special moments of life together, sharing them through food and making new memories is what I love and how I like to cook.

Rabbit and Wild Mushroom Ragout
Serves 4-6 people

1 rabbit, approximately 1–2 kg, cut into 6 pieces
6 whole wild mushrooms; could be pines, slippery jacks, or even more commonly available mushrooms like field or Swiss brown
6 cloves of garlic
6 slices of proscuitto, optional
6 sage leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cinnamon stick
pepper and salt
100ml of port
200ml of red wine
chicken stock to cover, approximately 1 litre

Preheat oven to 120C. Place a sage leaf on each piece of rabbit and then roughly wrap in proscuitto. Lightly season with salt and pepper and lightly coat each piece in plain flour. In a heavy-based pan, place 100g of butter and 100ml of oil, allow to gently heat and then sear rabbit on all sides until they become golden and slightly crispy. Remove from pan and place in ceramic baking dish.

For the mushrooms, lightly cook them in pan, so they are heated through and lightly seared, then add to rabbit. Deglaze the pan with port and red wine, bring to the boil and then add to ceramic baking dish with the rabbit and mushrooms.

Bring stock to the boil and pour over rabbit, allowing the stock to just cover the meat and then add the herbs, spices and garlic. Cover the dish with a lid, or if you don’t have a lid, cover very firmly with foil. Cook on very low in the oven (120C) for approximately 4–6 hours. The rabbit is ready when the meat easily falls off the bone.

To finish – and this is optional – chop some parsley and garlic and mix with lemon zest and toasted breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over dish just before serving.

NOTE: I would eat this dish with some cheesy, wet polenta and warm crusty bread, or even make ahead of time and toss fresh pasta or gnocchi through the ragout.

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