It’s the season for gibier, or wild game here in Belgium. In the supermarket at this time, we have an amazing choice: wild boar, doe, wild buck, pheasant, pigeon, duck, guinea fowl, reebock, marcassin (baby boar), hare, and rabbit. During the holidays, game is on everyone’s menu. I will admit that I haven’t yet tackled boar or venison. Rabbit, though, is something that we eat from time to time.
In truth, we don’t eat that much meat. When we do, it’s usually something lighter, like poultry or pork. Rabbit fits nicely into that category. It’s a light meat, with more flavor than chicken. Slow cooked like it is here, it turns into a lovely stew. Perfect for a winter night.
This is another recipe that I have from my cooking class in Siena. In Italy they eat rabbit often, and have many ways of preparing it. This is probably one of the simplest. As usual with Italian recipes, the quantities here are suggestions, as are the ingredients. Feel free to substitute what herbs that you have for those used here.
In the course of a normal Italian meal, the sauce from this would be served over pasta for a first course. The meat would then be served as a second course with some vegetables. We just serve it as a stew.
Coniglio in Umido
1 rabbit, cut into pieces
100 g / 4 oz dried tomatoes, chopped
100 g / 3/4 cup sliced olives
40 g / 1/4 cup seasoned flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil, approx.
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 sprig rosemary, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
125 ml / 1/2 cup white wine
1 can chopped tomatoes
- Soak tomato pieces in boiling water to soften. Soak olives in cold water to remove some of the salt.
- Heat the olive oil in a deep stew pot.
- Dip the rabbit pieces in flour, brown in oil over med high heat. You’ll probably have to do them in batches.
- When the rabbit pieces are brown, remove them and add the onion and garlic to the oil, (add a little more oil if you need to) and cook over medium heat till translucent. Add the celery, the rosemary and the thyme and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the wine, and cook till the wine is almost evaporated. Stir continually while this is happening.
- Add the rabbit back to the pan, pour over the can of tomatoes, the olives, and the dried tomatoes with their liquid. Add enough water to half cover the rabbit.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for about an hour. Stir from time to time to ensure that the rabbit doesn’t stick. Check the liquid and add more water if necessary. At the end of an hour, it there’s too much water left, leave the cover off and let it reduce.
Serves 4 if they like it and 10 if they don’t.
- You can do this in the oven if you have a big enough baking pan. Just put it all in the pan at the point where it says “cover and cook” above.
- Chicken can always be substituted for the rabbit, of course.
- Chopped fennel is a nice addition--it can go in with the celery. Or instead of the celery.
- We served this with some good crusty bread and a fresh green salad.
- I have also served this with boiled potatoes.