I couldn’t resist adding a few red clover flowers to this dish, in a (my sister would suggest sick) nod to Thumper’s favourite nibble in Bambi. His enthusiasm was well founded, they have a gentle pea-like flavour. Making your own orecciette is rewarding and theraputic in equal measure; it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. Serves 2.
For the Orecciette
100g Plain flour
1 Rabbit, jointed
2 Bay leaves
A Few sprigs of thyme
A Few black peppercorns
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Large red onion, finely chopped
1tsp Wild fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
A small bunch of flatleaf parsey leaves, roughly chopped
Wild fennel fronds
A few red clover flowers
Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
1 Mix the semolina and flour together in a large bowl. Add the water slowly, bringing everything together until you have a firm dough. Knead on a floured work surface for 10-15 minutes, at which point the dough should be nice and elastic.
To shape, flour your hands and roll out a small, marble-sized ball of dough. Place in the centre of your palm and gently flatten with your thumb, pulling away slightly at the end to create a curled ‘ear’ shape. Pop your orecciette onto a floured tray.
2 Heat the stock in a shallow pan with bay, peppercorns and thyme. Add the rabbit, topping up with a little water if necessary to just about cover the meat. Braise for about an hour, taking care that the water doesn’t boil. When the rabbit is tender, remove from the stock and set aside to cool. Strain the stock through a sieve, then pour back into the pan. Top up with a little more water, bring to the boil and add the orecciette.
3 Remove the rabbit meat from the bones, then heat a slosh of good olive oil in a sauté pan. Soften the garlic, onion and fennel seeds, before adding the rabbit to warm through. When the pasta is soft and to your liking, kill the heat on the stock and remove the ears with a slotted spoon.
4 Stir the pasta into the softened onions and rabbit, along with a couple of ladels of stock and some roughly chopped parsley. Season, then serve with parmesan, wild fennel fronds and red clover flowers (chive flowers are good too if you’re sans clover).