No, coniglio is not exactly kangaroo (or canguru in Italian), but rather it is rabbit. And although I do see a resemblance between the two creatures, I just like the ring of it: ragu di canguru or kangaroo ragu. But who would ever make that?
I was recently out for dinner in Rome with some Aussie and Kiwi friends. Of course, as in any conversation between Americans and Aussies, kangaroo was one of the topics of discussion. The other was Crocodile Dundee. And of course, when I’m involved, the conversation invariably turns to pasta, hence the connection between kangaroo and pasta.
There’s a lot of land Down Under, and although about 5% of the population is of Italian descent, when it comes to ragu, the ingredients always depend more on the local vermin than on the local people. In Tuscany, for example, there are many cinghiale, which is why the wild boar sauce is so popular. Down Under, there are kangaroos and koalas… The bottom line for ragu is that if you can catch it, you can make it into a sauce and serve it over pasta.
Thus, if you have an exceptionally quick hand, or a shotgun, you can skip the local butcher and wrastle down a rabbit or a kangaroo to use it in the below recipe. One note of caution, however, is that while the recipe calls for a whole rabbit, I wouldn’t recommend using an entire kangaroo. And, if you go for one without a gun, bring your boxing gloves.
p.s. Check out our wine pairings for this dish.
Clean the rabbit and cut into large pieces. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat some olive oil. Add the garlic, then after a minute, add the rabbit and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly. De-bone the rabbit and chop coarsely by hand or in a food processor. Set aside.
Add the onion, celery, carrot, and parsley to the skillet with the rabbit drippings and a drizzle more of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until golden brown. Add back the ground rabbit and the wine. Cook for about 5 minutes, and then add a cup of broth or water. At this point, if you prefer a red sauce, add a cup of tomato puree in lieu of the other liquid. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, adding a bit more liquid if it seems dry while cooking.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and add to the skillet with the rabbit mixture. Cook together for a minute. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano.
If you have time to make your own rabbit stock, you can simmer the rabbit bones in a quart of water with onion, carrots, and celery for an hour, and then strain.