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How To Cook Rabbit: Baked, Braised, Stuffed, and More Italian Classics

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How To Cook Rabbit: Baked, Braised, Stuffed, and More Italian Classics
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Rabbit meat is white, lean, and very versatile as it lends itself to different preparations in the kitchen. You can cook it stewed, baked, roasted, stir-fried or stuffed with various fillings. Italians are fond of rabbit and among their traditional recipes you'll find rabbit cacciatore, Ligurian-style rabbit, roasted rabbit with Greve lard, and much more.

You, too, can enjoy rabbit at home thanks to our tips. Below you'll learn how to cook rabbit in a variety of ways so you can prepare a delicious meal that will wow your loved ones.

How To Roast Rabbit 

Rabbit is perfect for a Sunday roast or anytime you want to bring to the table a tasty and elegant dish. It is best to buy the pieces of rabbit already butchered and cleaned. Rabbit should be purchased from a trusted butcher or a high-quality supermarket.  

To prepare the rabbit in the oven, you'll begin by heating oil in a pan with some garlic, a bay leaf and chopped rosemary.. Add the rabbit pieces and brown for 3-4 minutes per side. Deglaze with a glass of white wine and cook for 5-6 minutes over a gentle fire, adding some broth.

When the meat is softened, put the rabbit in a roasting pan sprayed with oil, a ladle of broth and some cubed potatoes. Cook at 200 C (400 F) degrees for 40-45 minutes and serve with potatoes. Roasted peppers are a side dish that goes well with the delicate rabbit meat.

Braised 

This is a simple preparation, but of great effect. Put a little oil in a non-stick pan and fry a whole garlic clove. When it is golden and has released its scent, add the rabbit pieces and let them brown for about 10 minutes, turning them when necessary.

To give more flavor you can add a sprig of rosemary. Add 3 or 4 anchovies (previously desalted) and deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine. Cover with a lid and continue cooking for about 20-25 minutes. To give more flavor you can add black olives. There are those who prefer to deglaze the rabbit with beer, for an even more aromatic preparation with a sweet scent. The choice is up to you!

Stewed

This cooking method makes rabbit meat very tender. For this preparation you need a saucepan with high sides or a Dutch oven. First of all, fry the onion in the oil for 10 minutes then add chopped garlic, sage, bay leaves and rosemary. Add the rabbit pieces and brown for 3-4 minutes per side.

Add a glass of white wine and let it evaporate. At this point add the tomato sauce, a ladle of vegetable stock, add salt and pepper and cook over a low heat for 40 minutes covering with a lid. If you want more color, you can add tomato paste. The sauce that remains from cooking is very good for dipping polenta or a slice of homemade bread.  

Stuffed Rabbit

The perfect recipe for Sunday lunch. It begins with a clean and boneless rabbit. Massage with oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt and let it marinate in the refrigerator (covered with film) for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: it can be prepared by mixing breadcrumbs soaked in milk and squeezed, minced veal, crumbled sausage, beaten egg, salt, black pepper, chopped garlic, parsley and grated lemon zest.

Spread the boned rabbit on a cutting board and stuff with the filling. For an even richer preparation, before the filling you can place slices of cooked ham on the rabbit.

The rabbit is wrapped around itself, starting from its hind legs, and binds itself with string. Add the potatoes and onions in pieces and cook in a hot oven at 200 C (400F) degrees for about 40 minutes. Baste with broth and continue cooking at 180 C (350 F) degrees for another 30-40 minutes, basting it from time to time.

Remember to let it cool before cutting it into slices and serving it so that it remains compact and does not come apart.  

Curious to try it? Check out this recipe from Gennaro, one of the chefs from Jamie Oliver's Food Tube:

Cacciatore

Cacciatore, aka "hunter's style", is a widespread preparation in many regions of Italy and often sees chicken as the protagonist. You start by sautéing celery, carrot and onion and a clove of garlic in a drizzle of oil and continue perfuming with bay leaves and rosemary. The onion is browned for 5 minutes and the lightly floured rabbit pieces are added. Brown for 10 minutes on a high heat so that a golden crust forms on both sides.

Deglaze the pan with white wine and add the peeled tomatoes lightly crushed with a fork. Cook on low heat for about 50 minutes. Take care to add a ladle of broth if you see that the bottom dries. The ideal result is to obtain a rabbit with tender meat and a thick and full-bodied sauce.  

Ligurian-style rabbit

This is a typical dish of the Northwestern Italian region of Liguria, but in particular of the Ponente Ligure, due to the fact that there are many rabbit farms in the area. The recipe combines rabbit with the bitter taste of the Taggiasca olives and the decisive and aromatic taste of walnuts and pine nuts.

The preparation is simple: put the cleaned and butchered pieces of rabbit in a pan and let them brown with oil, a bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Add a glass of red wine - which will give flavor and color - and let it evaporate. Add the Taggiasche olives, pine nuts, and enough broth to cover it half way. Cook for an hour, soaking the broth until the meat is tender.

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