Confit Rabbit and Green Olive Tortellini in Saffron Pasta with Pancetta, Micro Greens and Saffron Burnt Butter
I prepared this as a starter course for an olive and olive oil celebratory lunch with the Taste Magazine Team and although it is time consuming to make one’s own pasta, the bright yellow belly button tortellinis just looked so striking and cheerful! If however, you are in a rush or you really dont feel like the mess or fuss, the confit mixture can easily be mixed with the burnt butter sauce, crispy pancetta and blanched beans, and tossed through with some nice fresh tagliatelle bought from a decent deli!
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: overnight for the rabbit + 3-4 minutes for the pasta + 15 mins for the sauce
For the confit rabbit and green olive filling
- One medium sized Rabbit
- 300 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil (the pepperiness of Andante Medium blend works well)
- 3-4 Star Anise
- 6 Whole Peppercorns
- 100 g Green Table Olives (Nocellara works well)
- 50 ml Cream
For the pasta dough
- 4 sachets Saffron
- 250 ml Boiling Water
- 300 g OO Flour
- Pinch of Salt
- 30 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I like to use the Andante Zesty Lemon to add some tang but the Andante Medium blend would work beautifully too)
- 7 Egg Yolks
For the Sauce
- 200 g Butter
- 250 ml Cream
- Reserved saffron water (above)
For the accompaniments
- 100 g Peas (shelled and peeled)
- 50 g Mange Tout
- 4 large Tomatoes
- 10 pieces of Pancetta
Specialised Equipment: pasta machine
For the filling
- Clean the rabbit, remove any excess pieces of fat and remove the head.
- If you are lucky enough to have a pizza oven or wood fire oven, roast the rabbit for 30 minutes over an open flame for extra flavour. Otherwise, heat a large frying pan and brown the rabbit over a high flame until it crisps and is evenly golden.
- Place in a large cast iron pot (Le Creuset works beautifully), cover with the olive oil and drop the spices in with it.
- Bake in the oven overnight at 70°C.
- In the morning, allow the oil to cool slightly and remove the rabbit. Shred the meat off the bone using two small forks (rabbits can be quite bony and difficult but persevere – trust me, it’s worth it!).
- Remove the pips from the green olives and chop them finely. Add them to the rabbit and drizzle some cream over just enough to bind. Season liberally with salt and cracked black pepper.
For the pasta dough
- While you cook the rabbit overnight, soak the saffron in the boiling water in a small bowl, cling wrap it and allow it to infuse overnight.
- The next morning, reduce the saffron to about 100 ml in small saucepan.
- Pour the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre, add the olive oil, 50 ml of the saffron water and egg yolks and work into a soft, elastic dough. Knead well until the dough is smooth and silky.
- Wrap in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Using a pasta machine, roll into thin sheets (if you put your hand underneath the pasta sheet you should be able to see the silhouette of your hand clearly).
- Cut out with a round cookie cutter (approximately 6 cm diameter).
- Spoon a scant teaspoon of filling into the centre of each disc, brush the edges of the dough with water or light egg wash, fold over and seal tightly with your fingers. Bring the edges back around and seal together (so that it looks like a small belly button: or one can easily leave them flat in half moons as panzerotti or even seal two rounds together over filling to make ravioli – be creative and have fun!). Repeat and make about 3 tortellini (or other) per person for a starter.
- Keep the tortellini covered in the fridge until you are ready to blanch them in boiling water for about 3 minutes, or until al dente and serve immediately.
For the Sauce
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and allow it to bubble and froth until it is a chestnut brown colour and it smells nutty but not burned. Gently whisk in the cream and the remainder of the reduced saffron liquid.
- Place back on the stove and allow to reduce until coating consistency (this is when you can dip a spoon in the liquid, drag your finger through the coating and the sauce stays pretty firmly separated on the back of the spoon – not as thick as gravy but not as thin as a light soup).
For the Accompaniments
- Peel the peas, blanch and refresh.
- Thinly slice the mange tout beans at an angle, blanch and refresh.
- Blanch and refresh the tomatoes, peel and remove the seeds. Cut into small concasse.
- Toss the vegetables together and dress lightly in extra virgin olive oil.
- Fry the pancetta until crispy and curly.
- Blanch the tortellini and toss in olive oil (here I would recommend getting a little more adventurous – try the Andante Forte or the Intenso as they will add a very special depth of flavour and round off the spicy notes of the confit mixture very well!)
- Place a small spoonful of the vegetables in the middle of the plate.
- Place 3 tortellini on top and gently place some of the crispy pancetta on and around the pasta.
- Using an electric handheld blender, froth the sauce up ever so slightly and drizzle over the pasta and around the plate.
- Garnish with pea shoots.
Adapted from Silwood Kitchen Recipe Service and http://foodycat.blogspot.com/2009/06/rabbit-tortellini.html
picture taken from woolworths taste magazine http://www.tastemag.co.za/Recipe-2120/Confit-of-rabbit-and-green-olive-in-saffron-tortellini-.aspx