Pan-roasted rabbit recipe

Although here people think of rabbit mostly like fluffy, nice pets warm and cuddly, I think of rabbits as a succulent piece of meat that you roast and eat with your favorite sides. I know I might sound cruel, but I assure you I have never killed anyone’s pet rabbit to cook me some stew.
Anyway here rabbits are mostly pets, with the result that is kind of difficult to buy a rabbit to cook. About a year ago I bought a rabbit at the farmer’s market. I cooked it with olives and pine nuts (typical of Liguria) and then I had to trow it all out because it was rubbery and chewy and generally speaking inedible. It was a terrible culinary debacle and the dinner guests still make fun of me for that night rabbit.

I told the sad story to my mom, and my mom comforted me telling me it was probably a bad rabbit. That made me feel better, but still I didn’t try myself at rabbit for quite a while.
Then a couple of weeks ago I went shopping at an halal butcher and I saw a very good looking rabbit and decided to try again. After much debating, self-convincing and a long phone consultation with my mom AKA the rabbit queen, I finally brought myself to cook the rabbit. And…..it turned out great!!! So proud of myself!

Ingredients

  • rabbit
  • garlic
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • salt
  • pepper
  • water or broth
  • EVOO

Directions

  1. Here is what I did. First I cut the rabbit down. I was trying to find a video on YouTube to show you how I did it but all the videos are extremely complicated. I simply took a meat cleaver and imitated what I have seen butchers in Italy do: I cut the rabbit in 4 parts: back legs, 2 pieces for the bust (what in Italy we call the saddle) and another piece front legs. Then I divided the leg pieces in two so that each piece was only one leg.
  2. Then I put some oil with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, sage and rosemary in a pan that can comfortably contain the rabbit. I put the pan on the stove and let the garlic brown up.
  3. At this point I added the rabbit pieces and seared them on all sides until it was all well browned. Season with salt and pepper and add a splash of wine. After the wine evaporated, I covered the pan and let it cook adding water from time to time, because rabbit tends to dry out quite a bit.
  4. The rabbit should cook for about 40-50 minutes if it is farm raised and almost 2 hours if it is free range.
  5. I served my rabbit with polenta but works well also with roasted potatoes or any other side that would work for roasted chicken.

Rabbit with eggplants recipe

One of my favorite summer dish is this family recipe for coniglio alla messinese (rabbit messina style). My great grand father was born in Sicily and when he moved back to my hometown in the North brought a couple of recipes with him and a love of eggplants that trickled down through my grandma to me.

So here is the recipe. It is meant to be made with rabbit and eaten lukewarm or even cold, but I won’t hold it against you if you prefer it hot or you decide to substitute rabbit with chicken. I know rabbit is not that common here and it might even be a bit scary to some, so if you need to, go ahead and substitute with chicken.

Rabbit with eggplants

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit cleaned and cut in 6 pieces (substitute with chicken)
  • 2 eggplants
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Start by dicing the eggplants. Place them in a colander and add salt. Let the eggplants loose their water for about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile start roasting the rabbit. In a pan warm up some oil with a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Cook them until brown and then add the rabbit pieces. Sear the rabbit on all sides and then add white wine. Let the wine evaporate. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper and cover with water. Let cook for about 40 minutes adding water whenever the water gets low. The water is key to keep the rabbit moist, but is not needed if you substitute with chicken.
  3. In a pan add a couple of spoons of oil and a garlic clove. When the garlic is browned add the diced celery and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash the salt from the eggplants and add them to the celery. Cook on high heat until the eggplants are almost done. A minute before turning off the heat, pour the vinegar on the eggplants, let evaporate and turn off the heat.
  4. Combine the cooked rabbit with the eggplants and let them cool down. Serve the rabbit lukewarm or even cold (or hot if you cannot wait). It is delicious!

Rabbit with mustard

You have to know that rabbit is one of my favorite meats. It might be that is a typical dish from my hometown, or that, like chicken, it lends itself to be cooked in many different ways, or that it is very lean. I don’t really know. I just know that I like it.

So today a recipe with rabbit. If for any reason you don’t feel like eating rabbit, remember that, like pretty much any rabbit recipe, it can be cooked using chicken instead of rabbit.

It is a simple recipe, inspired by the Classic French recipe for lapin a la moutarde. I marinated the rabbit in mustard and then cooked it in a pan. Add white wine, water, lemon juice and salt and you get a delicious, creamy course perfect for everyday or for a special dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit cut in 6 pieces
  • 1 cup mustard
  • 1 cup wine
  • 1 lemon
  • oil
  • salt

Directions

  1. Slather the rabbit with the mustard diluted with the juice of the lemon. Massage it all over the rabbit and into the folds of the meat. Place in a bowl or a dish and let marinate 2 hours and up to overnight.
  2. Warm up a pan and add a drizzle of oil. Sear the rabbit on all sides.
  3. When the rabbit is well seared, deglaze the pan with the wine and let it evaporate.
  4. Cook for about 1 hour adding water whenever the liquid in the pan evaporate too much (rabit should always be 1/4 to 1/2 submerged by liquid.
  5. Serve hot with a side of potatoes or salad.