2000s Recipes + Menus

Coniglio in Padella (Stewed Rabbit with White Wine)

For6 persons
October 2008
Now that factory chicken has completely replaced free-roaming yard-raised chicken, one of the best tasting “fowls” you can eat is rabbit. Rabbit meat is lean and not as flabby as most chicken, and its taste is somewhere in between very good breast of chicken and veal. Frozen young rabbit of excellent quality is now widely available cut up in ready-to-cook pieces. It is so good that there is really little need to bother dismembering whole fresh rabbit. I recommend it without reservation.

In France and Germany rabbit is sometimes subjected to a lengthy preliminary marinade which gives it somewhat the taste of game and partly breaks down its texture. The method given here is very straightforward. Without sautéing, rabbit is stewed in practically nothing but its own juices. It is then simmered in white wine with a little rosemary and a touch of tomato. It is a familiar northern Italian approach, and it succeeds marvelously well in drawing out the delicate flavor of the rabbit and in maintaining its fine texture intact.
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds frozen cut-up rabbit, thawed overnight in the refrigerator (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, 6 to 8 twists of the mill
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Rinse the rabbit pieces in cold running water and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels.
  • Choose a deep covered skillet large enough to contain all the rabbit pieces in a single layer. Put in the oil, celery, garlic, and the rabbit, cover, and cook over low heat for 2 hours. Turn the meat once or twice, but do not leave uncovered.
  • After 2 hours, you will find that the rabbit has thrown off a great deal of liquid. Uncover the pan, turn up the heat to medium, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Turn the meat from time to time. When the liquid has evaporated, add the wine, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until the wine has evaporated. Dissolve the bouillon cube, tomato paste, and sugar in 2/3 cup warm water, pour it over the rabbit, and cook gently or another 12 to 15 minutes, turning and basting the rabbit two or three times. Serve immediately or reheat gently before serving.
  • Do not use wild rabbit in this recipe, only rabbit raised for food.
  • If using fresh rabbit, soak in abundant cold water for 12 hours or more, then rinse in several changes of cold water and thoroughly pat dry. It may be refrigerated while soaking.
  • The rabbit may be prepared entirely ahead of time. When reheating, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and warm up slowly in a covered pan over low heat, turning the meat from time to time.
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