Oscars 2015: Imitation Game (or, “Rabbit” Out of the Woods)

Posted on 23 February 2015

Best-picture nominee The Imitation Game handed me this pun on a platter for Oscars Night 2015. This recipe for Sicilian sweet-and-sour rabbit marinated in red wine and simmered with pine nuts, golden raisins, olives and capers made a tender and deliciously drunken stew with chunks of chicken thighs. Alongside it, we served Grand Goudapesto Rotelle, a baked casserole of corkscrew pasta tossed with basil pesto and grated gouda. It was all much more satisfying than the half-baked Oscars show.

As you can see below, Oscar himself is reading up on our Variety Boffo Buffet, which included:

  • The Tequila of Everything Margarita with Eddie Redmayne Pomegranate Juice (to honor National Margarita Day)
  • Birdmanchego Cheese
  • Rosamund Pickles
  • German Code Crackers
  • American Snippets
  • Emma Stone Crab Tarts
  • Mark Ruffalo Mozzarella
  • Benedict Cucumberbatch with Feta Knightly
  • Julienne Moore Stir Fry
  • Citizenfour Leeks
  • Breadly Cooper
  • Selma-lina King Cake
  • Cool Whiplash
  • BoyHoodsies to Eat Witherspoon

Imitation Game, or Sicilian “Rabbit” Stew with Chicken Thighs

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 4 small or medium onions, 2 in quarters and 2 finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6  tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1  clove garlic, minced
  • 2  tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 20 small green olives, pitted, and broken into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 two-cup chicken bouillon cube, and water as required
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine the wine, onion quarters, 1 teaspoon salt, and some twists of the pepper mill. Cut chicken thighs into about 1-inch chunks, submerge in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 3 hours.

2. In another bowl, pour warm water over the raisins, just enough to cover them, and set aside to plump.

3. Drain the chicken well and remove the onion. On a sheet of wax paper, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and another few twists of the pepper mill. Roll chicken chunks in the mixture and shake off excess.

4. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or pot. Sautée the chicken chunks until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. The flour will tend to stick to the pan, but that is okay as long as you do not let it burn. Dark brown is okay.

5. Remove chicken and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan or pot. Add chopped onion, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring well, for 5 minutes or until onion softens, making sure not to burn flour on the bottom of the pan.

6. Return chicken to the pot. Add raisins and water, tomato paste, pine nuts, olives and capers. Add the bouillon cube and enough water to barely cover the stew. Bring to a boil. stirring well to deglaze the pan and mix in any flour stuck to the bottom. This will thicken the sauce. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

7. Add vinegar and honey and continue simmering for 15 minutes more or until done. You can continue to cook to reduce sauce about as long as you want, as the meat will stay tender and the flavors will blend.

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