Agrodolce is a traditional sweet/sour sauce believed to have originated in Sicily. While the exact ingredients of this reduction vary between regions, it commonly includes vinegar, sugar, wine raisins and pine nuts, leading some to believe it has Arabic influences. Bitter chocolate is generally added to agrodolce dishes featuring rich game meat such as boar or rabbit which ‘softens’ the flavour, you can use chicken in the recipe as well, but if you do you can leave out the chocolate or reduce the amount. The rabbit version is a favourite in my home.
Coniglio in agrodolce
1 rabbit (about 700g) cut into 8 pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
75g (½ cup) plain flour
60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I like to use up to 6 but adjust to taste)
150g prosciutto, chopped
2 juniper berries (great for rabbit but you can leave out for the chicken)
5 black peppercorns
3 thyme sprigs, plus extra to serve
60ml (¼ cup) white wine vinegar
¼ cup raisins
1 tablespoon sour cherries
40g (¼ cup) pine nuts, toasted
25g (¼ cup) walnuts, toasted, chopped
60g dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids) finely chopped
Season the rabbit with salt and pepper, toss in the flour to coat and shake off excess. Heat oil in a large deep frying pan over high heat. Cook rabbit, turning, for 5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.
Reduce heat to medium, add carrot, celery, onion, garlic and butter, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion is light golden. Add prosciutto, juniper berries, peppercorns and thyme, and cook for a further minute or until fragrant. Return rabbit to pan and add sugar, vinegar and 500ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook. covered, for 45 minutes, or until rabbit is tender.
Add raisins, cherries, nuts and chocolate. and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until chocolate is melted and sauce is slightly reduced. Season and top with extra thyme sprigs to serve.