Edward has been in Italy these last few weeks, taking care of business in Le Marche where he and my sister Lisa Giobbi own a little apartment on the Adriatic, in San Benedetto Del Tronto. The town is in Le Marche, on the calf of the boot, pretty much straight over the mountains from Rome. In fact, the Via Salaria runs from the Borghese Garden to Porto D’Ascoli, which is right next to San Ben. Lisa, like Edward, loves traveling to Italy. She spent all of last year in Rome. She and her husband Paul enrolled their daughter in the English school, and Paul, who was on his last year starring in Crime Scene Investigators, good-naturedly commuted from LA. I managed two visits and I totally get it when my sis said that in Rome she wakes up happy every day.
So Edward is not much for hugs and words of praise. But my sister and brother and I eventually came to understand that sometimes you just have to take love the way it is given. For Edward, one of his ways of showing his love is through food. When I was in the hospital recovering from the problematic delivery of my first baby, he commuted into the city to bring me two meals a day. He didn’t always bring the easiest things to eat, however. I still have a Tupperware container that reads Monkfish in Broth. It was delicious, but slow going with those small plastic teaspoons they give you in the maternity ward.
I don’t know why Edward thinks Lisa loves fried rabbit. Maybe because once when she was pregnant she just ate a whole rabbit or something. But whatever, for the last 14 years since her daughter Snow was born, when Lisa goes out to the house in Katonah to visit, Edward makes her fried rabbit. Back in the city I’d ask, wickedly, what did you have for lunch? And Lisa would say, “You know goddamn well what he made.”
Well, I know this: he loves her.
This dish is light and delicious, salty, crispy, tender. It’s perfect served with a green salad, a lovely summer meal. Wondra is a great frying flour—and the best substitution I know for the frying flour used in Italy (which Edward hauls back in his carry on luggage from Italy twice a year).
1 1/3 pounds rabbit, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups whole milk
3 cups Wondra or all-purpose flour
Fry oil (we use safflower but corn or canola is fine)
Salt and taste
Place the rabbit pieces in a bowl and cover with cold water. Remove the rabbit and stir in the salt to dissolve. Return the rabbit pieces to the water and let rest 4 to 12 hours. Rinse the rabbit very well to remove all traces of blood. Don’t worry about the bloody stumps of bone, but do remove any blood vessels you see with a pairing knife. Dry the rabbit pieces well in a towel.
Place the milk in a large bowl. Place the flour in another bowl.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over a medium high heat. Add a dash of flour: when the flour pops the oil is ready. Working in batches, dunk the rabbit in the milk, and then dredge in the flour. Place the rabbit in the hot oil and fry for about 15 minutes, until the rabbit is golden brown. Turn the meat over with tongs as it fries to make sure it browns all over. Be sure to let the oil come back up to heat between batches.
Place the rabbit on paper towels or brown paper bags to drain. Salt the rabbit right away. Serve with lemon wedges.