This weekend I took part in Cherry Bombe Magazine’s Women’s International Supper Club and had a blast. This virtual dinner party was a way to get women together to cook, eat and connect with one another. I came up with a menu based on the recipes in the newly released Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook and I even made up a recipe of my own for the occasion: Rabbit Marsala With Tart Cherries. Guys, it. Was. Amazing.
Everyone, including myself, loved it SO MUCH that I made it again the next night with chicken, just to test the waters on the quintessential Chicken Marsala. It too was a hit, however, the rabbit was the BOMBE.
I began with a whole rabbit cut into pieces and brined it overnight in water, salt, garlic and peppercorns. The next day, I dredged the rabbit pieces, (including its liver and gizzards) in flour and browned them in my favorite Dutch Oven. Once browned, I removed the rabbit pieces to a plate and layered the bottom of the Dutch oven with sliced potatoes. I added the Marsala wine and a swirl of cream then popped in a bowlful of sweet, little cippolini onions, a few cloves of smashed garlic, sliced cremini mushrooms, rosemary, thyme and sage from my garden and then I added the browned rabbit pieces back to the pot. I sprinkled tart cherries on top and a few pats of butter, and brought everything to a boil and baked it in the oven at 350F with the lid on for one and half hours.
When I pulled off the lid it was like the best version of Thanksgiving all in one pot. There were the sliced potatoes, which softened and soaked up all the flavor and drippings from the cooked rabbit and Marsala. The cippolini onions added the perfect texture and sweetness alongside the tart cherries and as for the rabbit, it was so tender and juicy it literally fell off the bone.
To go along with the rabbit I prepared a few recipes from Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook
Beet Ricotta Dumplings With Browned Butter and Sage by Evan Kleiman the host of Good Food. I took the liberty of turning these dumplings into gnocchi and they were a delicious start to the meal, and their vibrant color was definitely eye candy.
Gougéres by Melanie Dunea creator of the My Last Supper series of books. These puffy, cheesy balls of goodness were light and airy, the perfect texture to go along with the pasta and rich rabbit.
Roasted Asparagus and Scallions With Burrata by Kate Brashares executive director of Edible Schoolyard NYC. It was like grown up broccoli and cheese. I’m putting burrata on everything from now on!
One-Pan Crazy Cake by Amanda Kludt editor in chief of Eater. This was the EASIEST cake I’ve ever made and it was moist and delicious and has pink frosting, what more could one want!? I topped the cake with Cherry Bombe Cake Balls by Justine D. New York City D.J. and professional pastry chef. These were such a challenge as I’m not a big baker and I had no clue what edible red pearlescent luster dust was, but these buttercream chocolate cake balls dipped in bittersweet chocolate were a sweet success. They were crazy good and looked pretty darn amazing too. Cooking and baking are an art and this recipe reminded me of that.
As for the rabbit…
If you do try the recipe, it makes a great weeknight meal, dinner party entree, or holiday feast. It comes together quickly and you only need one pot. Once you pop it in the oven you are free to do whatever you want (entertain, prepare a side dish, or have a glass or two of wine) until it’s cooked.
I highly recommend brining your meat the night before, only because it adds so much flavor, but if you’re pinched for time it’s okay to skip the brining step and simply start cooking. If you do try, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Rabbit Marsala With Tart Cherries
1 whole rabbit, cut into pieces (If you don’t know how to break down a whole rabbit follow this tutorial or kindly ask your butcher to cut it up for you)
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper (for browning the rabbit)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 1/2 cups cippolini onions, if you can’t find these sweet little gems, simply cut a large yellow onion up into chunks
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, if small leave whole, larger ones slice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sage leaves, chopped
1 cup dry Marsala wine, my go to brand is: Sperone Marsala Fine I.P.Dry
1/4 cup cream (optional)
1/2 cup tart cherries, I use Red Hills Fruit Company Tart Cherries in Water, but you can find them frozen or even dried, if you can’t find cherries, try cranberries
a few pats of butter
salt and pepper to taste
How To Brine The Rabbit:
Put the rabbit pieces, (including the liver and the gizzards) in a large bowl (I like to scrub them clean with coarse salt under cold running water) and fill with cold water. Add two smashed garlic cloves, a few black peppercorns and a heaping handful of coarse sea salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a plate and refrigerate for 24 hours. Note: the brining ingredients are not included in the list of ingredients above.
Preparation For Rabbit Marsala:
Remove the rabbit pieces from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge the rabbit pieces (including the liver and gizzards) in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the rabbit pieces in oil, in a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. After 2-3 minutes or when browned, flip and brown the other side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
If there is a LOT of grease/oil leftover in the Dutch oven, wipe it clean, leaving a small amount of oil before layering the sliced potatoes around the bottom of the Dutch oven. Next, layer on the cippolini onions or chopped onion, followed by the cremini mushrooms, garlic and herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage).
Add the dry Marsala wine and the cream (if using) then add the browned rabbit pieces including the liver and gizzards which impart a delicious flavor to the sauce back to the Dutch oven. Top with the tart cherries, salt and pepper to taste and a few pats of butter. Put the lid on and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, put the covered Dutch oven into a 350F oven and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Top with parsley if you like and serve.
P.S. If you can’t get your hands on a rabbit, you can substitute chicken.