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Rabbit Head Pasta

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Traditional pasta sauce, much loved in some parts of Italy. Don't do this at home. Only a head case would eat it.

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This one is not for the ladies. I'm a man but even I had trouble touching my plate. I mean, how slow can slow food get? In my fearless exploration of the many lost recipes of the Italian countryside, I unearthed this peasant recipe to use the poorer parts of the rabbit. I eat most of my rabbits head to toe. You are unlikely to stumble upon this dish in any restaurant, but I've seen regular people do it at home. I am not head over heels for this dish but couldn't resist trying it. See for yourself, and please no hissy fits about them poor rabbits. Once a rabbit is offered on the butcher stand, I can't see what's wrong in trying to use every last bit of it rather than throwing half the meat in the bin.

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We'll begin slowly by preparing the ingredients of the soffritto, that ubiquous flavor base found in most simmered Italian dishes. This is a salsiccia, a fresh sausage seasoned with fennel seeds and red pepper. I bought it from a grocer who drives up from Calabria every week to sell us Swiss vegetables and a few other products. This sort of sausage is designed to be peeled and diced and used in a ragū.

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Peel, cut thin slices then cut the slices into strips and the strips into cubes.

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Ecco!

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Peel and remove the green sprout inside a couple garlic cloves.

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Coarsely dice the garlic ...

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... then the onion.

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Peel and finely dice a carrot...

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... then a branch of celery. If you are one for Easter bunnies or just like these lovely furry animals, stop reading right now.

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Here are all our ingredients for this most macabre dish. Clockwise from the top: seven bunny heads (one a head), a glass of red wine, bunny livers, diced celery and carrot, rosemary twigs, diced onion, diced salsiccia and peeled tomatoes. Not on the pictures are the two black candles I should have lit to honor these seven valorous rabbits. Let us now embrace this recipe head on.

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Time for the faint of heart to head out of the kitchen. As I was queuing up at the butcher's, some guy bought a rabbit. The lady butcher asked him if he wanted the head. The guy said no and I stepped in «I'll take the head if you don't mind». They gave me six more gory rabbit heads - all for free. They assumed it was for my dogs. But when I asked for the livers, which they actually sell to humans, and left with them in the same bag, they just couldn't make head or tails of my dinner plans.

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Here is my mise en place. Try to have all your ingredients handy around the pot and the recipe firmly committed to memory before you start.

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Heat a little olive oil in the pot and delicately place the heads one after the other with tongs.

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If you drop them into the pot you'll splash hot oil all over your hand - revenge of the rabbits.

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Continue until you run out of heads.

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You will make some heads turn today, at least until every side has been properly browned.

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Remove the head and reserve.

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Add a little more oil if needed, then place the sausage or bacon bits...

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... followed by the onions.

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