When my grandmother cooked rabbits, we knew there was a special occasion to celebrate. Her rabbit was not roasted, but braised in its own juice and then enriched with white wine and tomatoes.Jump to Recipe
Already during the Roman Empire, rabbits as well as hares were served. However, this food always appeared to be reserved for the kitchens of the poor. Those who could afford it ate “real” meat. However, rabbit recipes always boomed in times of war and economic crises, only to disappear again when people were doing better. My grandmother survived two wars ‑ her rabbit remained a feast for our whole family.
Wild or domesticated: cooking preparations
The meat of the domestic rabbit is firm, white and has an aromatic taste that is not too intense. In contrast, the wild rabbit has a very dark meat and a distinctive smell of game that not everyone likes. The same applies to the field hare, should you prepare it. It is recommended to put the meat of the wild animals in a vinegar-water mixture (250 ml vinegar to 1 l water) for 30 minutes to reduce the intensity of the taste and to ensure that the meat is tender. You can also do this step with the domestic rabbit. For wild animals, it may be advisable to have them in the vinegar-water mixture for a little longer (see recipe).
After removing the meat from the vinegar-water mixture, dry it and marinate for a few hours or overnight as desired. A mixture of rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaves, fennel, basil and of course garlic is very tasty. Depending on the size of the pieces of meat, the cooking time is 1.5-2 hours. My grandmother taught me to take the rabbit from the heat as soon as the meat comes off the bones. If you miss this time, the meat becomes tough and stringy. Hunter's style rabbit tastes best with polenta and its own sauce.
Rabbit in hunter's style
- 1 rabbit, approx. 1.5 kg
- 6 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 stick celery, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 150 ml wine, white , dry
- rosemary, fresh
- pepper, black, freshly ground
- 400 g tomatoes, Dissolve 1 stock cube with 2 tbsp tomato purée in 6 tbsp warm water; or 400 g fresh peeled tomatoes.
- Let the butcher or hunter cut the rabbit professionally. If you have a wild rabbit, as is the case with me, put the meat into the water-vinegar mixture for 30 minutes. I then put the pieces of rabbit in plenty of cold water in the fridge overnight. The next day, rinse well and pat dry.
- Heat a wide casserole and add the oil, butter, celery, garlic and the rabbit. The pieces of meat should be placed side by side. Put the lid on tightly and let everything braise at a low heat. Turn the meat from time to time and put the lid back on immediately.
- After a good hour, the rabbit has produced a considerable amount of liquid. Now take off the lid and let the liquid evaporate at a medium heat, turn the pieces of meat again. Once the liquid has boiled down, add the white wine, the finely chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Let the wine evaporate a little, then add the dissolved stock cube with the tomato purée or the chopped tomatoes to the rabbit.
- From this point on, there are two ways to complete the dish:
- 1. You let the meat simmer a little more until the liquid has boiled down to a creamy sauce. (I recommend the tomato purée for this version.)
- 2. You take the meat from the casserole and remove a few small pieces from the bones. Purée the pieces with the strained broth and possibly 1 teaspoon of flour to bind them. Put this sauce back into the casserole dish and let it thicken a little; put the rabbit pieces back in and let them braise for a short time at a low heat. (This version tastes delicious with the fresh tomatoes.)
- Season the dish with salt and pepper. Serve the rabbit on plates in its own sauce. The classic North Italian side dish is polenta, but a crispy ciabatta is also a suitable accompaniment.