Capunti, rabbit bolognese, ‘cottontail’ sauce

Capunti, rabbit bolognese, ‘cottontail’ sauce

New Classics
Mark Roper

This is me being characteristically silly, but still keeping in mind technique and my love of the classics. When I first came across this particular pasta shape I instantly thought: ‘Ha, bunny ears!’. This recipe seemed destined.


Quantity Ingredient
500g capunti pasta


Quantity Ingredient
2 x 5mm slices pancetta
200ml plus 1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 brown onion, peeled and cut into very small dice or ‘brunoise’
1 carrot, peeled and cut into fine dice
1 leek, brunoise, white part only
1 inner celery stalk, brunoise
2 king brown mushrooms, brunoise
garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and reserved for garnish later, half the stalks finely chopped
1 rabbit, with the liver, filleted and meat removed from bones then minced
200g pork, minced
375ml dry white wine
250ml see method for ingredients
Chicken stock, to cover
salt and pepper

‘Cottontail’ sauce

Quantity Ingredient
100ml thickened cream, whipped
1 quantity Béchamel sauce, with 80 g grated parmesan and some freshly grated nutmeg added

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
extra parmesan, in block form


  1. For the bolognese, heat a large shallow frying pan over medium heat and sweat the pancetta in the 1 tablespoon olive oil for several minutes. Add the vegetables, garlic and herbs, except for the parsley leaves. Continue to cook, without colouring, for several minutes until tender and fragrant. Tip this mixture out into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Wipe out the pan and heat the 200 ml olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the rabbit and pork and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, pressing out any lumps until the meat starts to colour well all over, 6–8 minutes. (You don’t want the meat to boil, you want it to colour to a nice golden brown.)
  3. Drain the meat in a colander then return to the pan with the vegetable mixture. Return to the heat and add the wine. Cook this down until reduced by half then add the tomato purée and enough stock to cover. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let bubble, stirring often, for about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and leave to rest and infuse for an hour, to develop the flavours.
  4. For the ‘cottontail’ sauce, fold the cream into the béchamel, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface and set aside at room temperature.
  5. For the pasta, bring a large deep saucepan of salted water to the boil. Boil the capunti until al dente, about 12 minutes, but test to make sure. Strain the pasta through a colander and toss with a little olive oil.
  6. To serve

    Reheat the bolognese sauce with more stock and a drizzle of olive oil if necessary, so it has a lovely, sauce-like texture. Check for seasoning. Cut the parsley leaves finely. Toss the pasta with a few hearty spoonfuls of sauce and serve onto bowl plates. Spoon on extra sauce then add a large dollop of ‘cottontail’ sauce to each plate. Sprinkle with parsley and shave on some parmesan. Serve.
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