I’ll start this with a disclaimer. If you think that the following picture is absolutely the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen, skip this entry…
Seriously. Consider yourself warned. This is also not a quick recipe. But it’s too interesting not to share.
Anyway, I work with some very interesting folks. One of these people is Kelli. She and her husband decided somewhere along the way to raise rabbits for dining purposes. Because of an old bartering agreement, Kelli offered me one of the rabbits after they’d been “processed.” Feeling adventurous, I took her up on it.
Now, I’ve never done anything with rabbit. Never cooked it. Never eaten it. In fact, pretty much the only thing I knew about cooking rabbit was this:
I did some poking around, though, and I found the rabbit stew recipe. It sounded pretty tasty, so I ran with it. The ingredients:
- 1 good sized rabbit, skinned and cut into pieces
- 1 c. dry red wine
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 4 rosemary sprigs, tied into two bundles
- 4 c. chicken stock
- 1/2 lb. assorted olives
First up, the rabbit itself. I got my knife and a cutting board and unwrapped it, not having looked at it yet. Here’s what greeted me:
“It’s just like a whole chicken,” I thought. “Just like a whole chicken…not Thumper.” I took a deep breath and went to work:
After this process was finished, I coated the pieces liberally in salt and pepper, heated some olive oil in a pot, and browned the pieces in a couple of batches:
Once the pieces were browned, I set them aside in a pan. I deglazed the pot with the red wine, scraped up the bits from the bottom of the pot, and then poured the wine into a small bowl. I wiped out the pot, added another good portion of olive oil, and added the carrot, celery, and onion. This mixture is called battuto, a base of many Italian-style stews.
Cook this for about 8 minutes over medium heat, until the vegetables have softened. Then add the tomato paste and rosemary bundles. Cook, stirring, until the tomato paste starts to brown. Return the rabbit and any accumulated juice to the pot, along with the wine. Cook this, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add two cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add a few grinds of pepper, but do not add salt.
After the 30 minutes are up, add the remaining 2 cups of broth and the olives. I also had a nice big sprig of Thai basil that I laid across the top. Simmer this for 20 more minutes:
When the 20 minutes are up, remove and discard the basil. Take the rabbit pieces out of the pot and put them aside to cool for a few minutes. Allow the stew to continue to simmer. Taste for salt at this point. (The olives will impart a lot of salt. I found out the hard way and had to make some adjustments on the fly.) If it gets too thick, add a little broth or red wine.
When the pieces are cool enough, remove the meat from the bones (it will be tender enough that it will basically fall off the bone), cut it into small pieces, and return it to the stew. Stir and let simmer for 2-3 minutes to warm the meat back up. Pour into bowls. Serve with crusty bread and a fruity Italian wine. In this case, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo filled the bill nicely.
If you can handle the prep (or find someone to do it for you), rabbit does make for a delicious meal, believe me.