The Type Of Meat You Should Stop Sleeping On For Bolognese

Spaghetti (or fettuccini, or tagliatelle ... you get the picture) bolognese seems to be one of the world's best-loved dishes. Rich, savory meat. Tender, toothsome noodles. A shower of Parmesan cheese to bring a nutty, salty finish. What's not to love? But not all bolognese is created equal. For example, did you know that there is white bolognese (made without tomatoes) and red bolognese? Did you know spaghetti is not universally accepted as the best pasta shape for bolognese because it's thought the sauce slides off the noodle? 

And perhaps most importantly, did you know you might be missing out on delicious bolognese by using only beef as your base? Even if you include the occasional pork, you're still missing out on an incredibly rich, savory, and delicious addition to your pasta plate. In this case, it's rabbit. Yes, rabbit. Have reservations? Read a little further and see if you still can't imagine putting rabbit in your pasta for a bolognese like you've never tasted before.

The key is rabbit

Though many might have grown up with browned ground beef and jarred tomato sauce being their first introduction to bolognese, there's a whole rich world of bolognese beyond that. Using rabbit legs brings a whole new dimension to bolognese. They're tender and taste mild enough to really take on all the other flavors of your bolognese. If you're used to ground meat in your pasta bolognese, this texture is much different. Rabbit can seem somewhat akin to short ribs in that when it's cooked perfectly, the meat falls cleanly from the bone and shreds into the sauce, almost melting with the other vegetables and aromatics. 

The bolognese can cook for anywhere from just a few hours (unlike short ribs, the rabbit legs cook somewhat quickly) to a whole day or even overnight. One of the best parts of a good bolognese is how it actually improves after a day or so of letting the flavors meld. It's the perfect dish to prep ahead of time so when it's time to eat, you just cook the pasta, reheat the sauce, and serve.

One beautiful bolognese

Now that you're on board with trying rabbit bolognese, you get to have fun with what to put in the rest of your sauce. If you're going with a tomato-free bolognese, stick with woodsy aromatics such as rosemary and a complementary taste of salty, umami bacon. If you choose to go the tomato route (you do you), take a note from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and include some dried porcini mushrooms, which offer a serious punch of flavor as they reconstitute in the savory tomato broth. 

Whatever route you take, don't shy away from adding a little butter or even a splash of cream once the bolognese is off the heat. Let it melt into the sauce and add some much-needed fat and richness since rabbit is naturally lean. Toss your sauce with pasta, shower the whole thing with Parmesan, and you're in some delicious bolognese business.