The rabbit wrapped in the chicken skin

A visit to Ana Roš in Slovenia. Finding out about a transgender main course. With no borders

25-05-2016
The Rabbit that wanted to become a chicken, a bran

The Rabbit that wanted to become a chicken, a brand new dish in the menu of Slovenian restaurant Hiša Franko in Kobarid, a main course that depicts the talent of Ana Roš, a chef who is making the spotlights point on the gastronomy of an often neglected country (photo by Zanatta)

What a beautiful season to cover the damp and splendidly green paths between the rivers Soča and Natisone in Slovenia, a few kilometres from the Italian border. And what a joy it is to stop at Hiša Franko, the den of Valter Kramar and Ana Roš, husband and wife, equally talented sommelier and chef.

Their cooking ambitions timidly blossomed in 2002, yet within a few years they grew tremendously, so much so they tickled the curiosity of “Chef’s Table”, Netflix’s documentary series with a gigantic media capacity: the trailer from the second season, which will be ready in a few days’ time, has already been viewed 5 million times in Brazil. And Ana will be in excellent company with Grant Achatz, Gaggan Anand, Alex Atala, Dominque Crenn and Enrique Olvera. «The echo the documentary will have scares me a little», she explains, «but I’m strong».

This was confirmed to us a few days ago. Her cuisine hints at no style if not her own. Her dishes are full of knowledge, curiosity, technique. And ingredients: why follow the dominating dogma of less is more when the challenge of putting together ingredients seemingly impossible to combine is so pressing from within? Why call it a signature dish, as if it were impossible to change in the future, when a dish is, by nature, always unfinished, always in progress? Why, for instance, not start from thinking about a dish with the meat of two animals?

Ana Roš. In order to find out more about the chef from Kobarid, go on Netflix from the 27th of May: "Chef's Table" a documentary series whose trailer has already been viewed 5 million times will be online (photo from Chef's Table)

Ana Roš. In order to find out more about the chef from Kobarid, go on Netflix from the 27th of May: "Chef's Table" a documentary series whose trailer has already been viewed 5 million times will be online (photo from Chef's Table)

These are all useful premises to draw the backdrop for the Rabbit that wanted to become a chicken, a very rich and interesting main course, which follows a successful trend of metamorphic dishes, which debuted and developed with Massimo Bottura (the Potato that wanted to become a truffle, the Spaghetto that wanted to become lasagna, the North that wanted to become South…). In this case the transgender game is between two courtyard animals. Let’s leave the tale of its creation to Ana Roš herself.

«One day, a breeder from Breznica, a Slovenian village famous for its rabbits, called me. He asked me if I was interested. At that moment I thought not, because it’s a white meat, it’s boring and has few cooking possibilities. It’s not like with roe deer which gives you plenty of satisfaction no matter what the cut. Rabbits lack in crispiness and fattiness, especially our mountain ones, which are far too thin. But I do like a challenge. I ordered a couple and then wondered: how can I make this meat interesting and fun? By combining it with some chicken».

That is to say, the rabbit roll you can see in the photo above encloses all the cuts of a rabbit: «Neck, shoulders, fillet are all chopped and rolled with tarragon, a very typical herb. Since the skin was not enough, however, I decided to use the one from the chicken. After all, it is the best part of the chicken, it’s a known fact, so I cooked it at 60°C for 2 hours so it became crispy and toasted on each side. A trick I saw in India and which for some time allowed us to serve some delicious chicken skin snacks».

The entrance to Hiša Franko in Staro Selo, a hamlet of Kobarid, only a few kilometres from the border between Slovenia and Italy, tel. +386.(0)5.3894120 

The entrance to Hiša Franko in Staro Selo, a hamlet of Kobarid, only a few kilometres from the border between Slovenia and Italy, tel. +386.(0)5.3894120 

«However, I also wanted to create a sweet-non-sweet note so I thought of mole, the traditional Mexican sauce, made with cocoa, which is often paired with chicken. Following our transgender game, I made it with the rabbit, finishing it with infused spices, almonds and carrots». Et voilà, here’s a delicious dish because it is rich in textures and flavours, with mostly acid or sweet tones, depending on where you stick your fork.

A final note by the chef: «I only get whole rabbits; we cannot choose between leg, breast, shoulder or fillet. Perhaps cooks complain because cutting and cleaning are more laborious. Yet starting from the whole animal and getting to the particular part leads to greater satisfaction. And, almost every time, to better dishes». Something worth remembering.


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