Stefano’s rabbit papardelle with sage and speck

Stefano’s rabbit papardelle with sage and speck

Nuovo Mondo
Alan Benson

Here is a comforting, hearty pasta. The only demanding part of this recipe is dealing with the rabbits. You could also adapt this recipe to use pheasant, chicken or even duck. Whichever you use, try to also source some really good speck.


Quantity Ingredient
1 rabbit, cut into 6–8 pieces, bones left in
olive oil, for cooking
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
150g smoked speck or pancetta, rind removed and reserved, flesh cut into 5 mm cubes
1 thyme
1 garlic, cut in half
1 litre Chicken stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sage, leaves picked
250g Homemade pasta, cut into about 40 thick ribbons
100g grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan or casserole dish over high heat. Add the rabbit pieces and cook until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the carrot, onion, speck rind, thyme, garlic and chicken stock to the pan. Bring to the boil, return the meat to the pan, cover, then transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours, or until the rabbit is very tender. Remove the rabbit pieces and pick off all the meat, discarding the bones. Return to the stove and reduce the liquid by half over high heat – you’ll need about 500 ml, or even less.
  4. Heat a little olive oil in a separate pan and cook the diced speck until it starts to crisp. Add the butter and sage and cook until the butter starts to brown. Add the rabbit stock and the meat.
  5. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well and add to the sauce, then add the cheese and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.


  • Rabbit can stir up strong emotions in Australia. There are still people calling it ‘underground mutton’ in a very derisory fashion. What a pity. One of my most spectacular culinary failures was at a dinner many years ago for a well-attended wine and food society where wild rabbit was on for main course. It went down like a lead balloon. Boy, was that a wake-up call. Even now I remain very uneasy about any rabbit on a menu because I am terrified of possible bad reactions. I am not normally such a wimp, so I guess I must have been seriously traumatised that time, many years ago.
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