To the small rabbit farm today to get a rabbit for tomorrows lunch. Rabbit may not be everyone’s cup of tea but here in Puglia it is a very popular lunch dish. We have about 6 coming for lunch so we buy a 1.5 kilo rabbit and serve it after the pasta course. The guy who owns the farm has them ready prepared and cuts them into pieces for you. He charges about €7 per kilo and unlike a store he is open almost all the time so you can pop in day or night and get one.
This is how we cook it Coniglio al Forno
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Half a litre of white wine
quarter of a litre of Water
2 tbsps of chopped parsley
1.5 kilos of rabbit
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tbspn of capers
4 tomatoes chopped
Pinch of oregano
Place everything in one pan and place in an oven 180 for 60 mins.
We used to use a farmer for our rabbit not realising at first that you could go to the farm direct. I assumed he only supplied butchers, restaurants and hotels in the area. The farmer was more used to dealing with foreigners and therefore upped the price considerably to them. We paid €12 a kilo with him which made it quite a special dish. He also used to do our ploughing for €160 until we met a guy in the bar who did it for €90 and still clearly felt a little guilty about it and offered to prune a load of trees as well. During our honeymoon period here as we revelled in the joys of buying direct from a local farmer , conducting the transaction in Italian ( kind of ) and imagining how cheap we were getting everything the farmer stopped me when walking and from atop his tractor asked if I wanted a gallina. Now to be fair I had no idea what a gallina was but relishing the moment of chatting to an Italian farmer and how great that would sound to friends in England I of course agreed. I rushed home and told my wife .” we have bought a gallina we must pick it up tomorrow at 1 p.m.I understood almost all he said” I exclaimed with pure joy. I then looked up gallina and it said chicken. Oh boy I said to the wife free range home fed chicken. I thought pollo was chicken said my wife but I was in dream mode . When we get it tomorrow we can use it when the Italian family comes for Sunday lunch. We picked the bird up the next day and it was big. Well it would be wouldn’t it running around a farm all day none of those manky Tesco chickens. This one grew up on an Italian farm. The price for such a bird seemed great only €9 a kilo. We’ve made a killing I told my wife on the way home. Those Italians are going to think we have settled in so quickly. I told you waving at him as he passed everyday would pay off. My wife didn’t look as impressed as I had hoped.
Into the pot it went , round came the Italian family and after pasta the chicken . We helped ourselves and I waited for the accolades to come. However nobody could talk as everyone was busy chewing and chewing oh and did I mention chewing. What the hell is this asked Pasquale or words to that effect in Italian. Gallina I said and he started to chuckle . Mike you are a testa di rape ( turnip head) gallina means an old old hen here and whilst good it needs to be cooked for about 10 hours. Now please don’t tell me you paid more than €5 a kilo for it.
Look up chicken in an Italian dictionary and it says pollo and gallina I guess you need to understand the nuances .