Wild Baby Fennel Cannelloni with Rosemary Rabbi
Oh, those Italian eggs! Extra large with huge orange- yellow yolks, they give Chef Maria Salcuni's pasta a golden color. If the eggs you find aren't very large, you may find you need to add an extra egg to get the right amount of moisture for the dough, since the only moisture comes from the eggs. Chef Salcuni's cannelloni are shaped on a thin wooden stick. After a few practice pieces, the rolling motions will become second nature. The finished cannelloni are tossed with rabbit scented with rosemary. Fennel is added with a dusting of ground fennel seed and a fennel frond garnish at the end.
- semolina flour - 3 cups
- extra large eggs - 3
- olive oil - 1 tsp
- rabbit haunches, trimmed and deboned - 2
- Salt and freshly ground pepper - to taste
- olive oil - 3 tbs
- rosemary, stemmed - 2 sprigs
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
- fennel seeds, ground - 2 tbs
- fennel fronds - 4
Make a mound of the semolina on a work surface and make a crater at the top. Break the eggs into the crater. Using a fork, stir the eggs to break up the yolks and blend the yolks and whites. Begin stirring some of the semolina into the eggs. When the mixture is mushy, put down the fork and blend with your fingers until the dough is moistened throughout and forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the ball in half. Roll out half the dough into a very thin rectangle measuring approximately 24 inches by 12 inches. Let rest 5 minutes. Using a rotary cutter (pizza cutter), cut the dough across its short dimension into twelve 2-inch strips, then cut it in thirds lengthwise, making 36 small rectangles. Using a bamboo skewer or similar small diameter stick, lay the skewer along one long side of one of the small rectangles. Fold the edge of the dough over the skewer, then roll with the flat palms of your hands to roll up the dough like a window shade around the skewer. Move it to a clear part of your work surface and slip out the skewer. Continue to roll, making 36 cannelloni from each half of the dough, total of 72 pieces.
Cut the rabbit haunches into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a slow boil and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Drop the pasta into the water and swirl with a cooking spoon to separate the pasta. Let cook 2 to 3 minutes. The pasta should be ready at the same time the rabbit pieces have begun to brown.
Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet and add the rosemary leaves. Add the rabbit and saute over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to brown. Lift the cannelloni out of the water with a slotted spoon or wire skimmer and put into the pan w ith the rabbit. Stir w ith a wooden spoon to mix the rabbit and pasta. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and stir again. Sprinkle the cheese over the rabbit and pasta and toss; cook another 30 seconds to melt the cheese. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Mound rabbit and cannelloni in the centers of four warmed serving plates. Lightly sprinkle w ith ground fennel seed; make a wispy line of ground fennel seed on the plates extending to the rims at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions. Top each dish with a fennel frond.