Soak the rabbit in the buttermilk for 8 hours in the refrigerator. For the ricotta: Slowly bring the milk, buttermilk and salt to a simmer over medium heat in a pot. Stir constantly to prevent scalding of the milk. Add the lemon juice and continue to simmer until the mixture starts to curdle.
Line a sieve with a fine-mesh cheesecloth. Pour the mixture through the cheesecloth and refrigerate, allowing the mixture to continue draining. Reserve the liquid and adjust the desired consistency with the liquid and olive oil. Stir in the lemon zest.
For the polenta: Indirectly heat the milk, polenta and stock and bring to a simmer. The best method for this is in a crock pot or even a rice cooker. Cook until the polenta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Adjust the consistency with the heavy cream, stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
For the rabbit: Preheat a Dutch oven with the lard over low heat. Remove the rabbit from the buttermilk and dry using a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle the rabbit with salt and pepper and dust lightly and evenly with the rice flour.
Increase the heat under the Dutch oven and add the rabbit. Cook on each side until a crispy golden brown color is achieved, and then transfer to a rack to rest. Add the sausages to the pot and brown and render the fat over low heat. Transfer to the rack. Add the carrots, onions and celery and continue to simmer over low heat until all of the vegetables are tender. Cook 5 minutes longer, scraping the bottom of the pot throughout. Add the wine and garlic and continue cooking over low heat until most of the wine has evaporated. The vegetables should start to break down even further by this point.
Stir in the tomatoes and capers and cook over low heat until the tomatoes start to break down, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes. Pour in the reserved tomato juice and stock and bring to a simmer. Return the rabbit to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes, and then add the sausages and continue simmering until the rabbit becomes tender and the sausages are fully cooked. Remove the rabbit and sausages and allow them to cool slightly. Separate the rabbit meat from the bones and return the meat to the sugo. Season with the saba, lemon zest, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.
Serve over the polenta and garnish with fresh ricotta, lemon zest and olive oil. Slice the sausages and serve over the ricotta.
Quick-cooking polenta may be used to save time. Also, any type of sausage may be used in place of the garlic sausage.
This recipe has been updated and may differ from what was originally published or broadcast.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Christopher Eley