Rabbit Cacciatore

The first time I had rabbit, I was 19, visiting a friend’s grandparent’s ranch in Cuernavaca, Mexico. They raised rabbits, among other things, and I was asked to go outside and pick out a few from the hundreds in their pens. Not knowing why I was asked to perform this task, I picked out the cutest ones I could find. An hour later I was mortified when I went in the kitchen and saw those rabbits, skinned and sticking out of a huge steaming pot on the stove. The menu for lunch that day was rabbit stew, and we were having a feast with my friend’s extended family. White linens, silver, fine china, 20 people assembled at an impressively long dining table. Out of politeness, and my complete lack of fluency in the language (if I had been more fluent I might have found a way out of this situation) I took a bite. It was absolutely delicious. From that point on, I loved rabbit.

People often compare the taste of rabbit to chicken. I think it has the texture of chicken, particularly of chicken thighs or legs, but it really doesn’t taste like chicken. It has its own wonderful taste. Years ago it was much more common to cook rabbit, and more easy to find it at a butcher shop. But these days, in the era of chicken and supermarkets, you likely need to go to a specialty market to find some. This rabbit recipe is an easy to make cacciatore, or a “hunter style” stew, which is typically made with either chicken or rabbit.

Rabbit Cacciatore Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-5.

Whole rabbit is much more difficult to part out than a whole chicken. If you can, have your butcher cut it for you.

Ingredients

  • One 2 1/4 lb rabbit, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Wondra flour works great)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 3 cups of chopped, very ripe tomatoes (or canned plum tomatoes)
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 16 salt-cured olives, black or green, pitted

Method

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1 Sprinkle the rabbit pieces generously with salt and pepper. Rub half of the thyme leaves into the pieces, then sprinkle with flour to lightly coat. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high. Place the rabbit pieces in the pan in a single layer. Do not stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side until lightly browned, then turn the pieces and brown on the other side for a minute or two more. Remove the rabbit pieces to a dish to set aside.

2 Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to the pan, cook for 1 minute. Then add garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms, cook for a couple minutes more. Add the rosemary and the remaining thyme. Add the rabbit back into the pan. Cover with chopped tomatoes and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium low; cover the pan and cook for 35 minutes.

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3 Uncover the pan, add the olives. Increase heat to high and cook for several minutes to boil off excess moisture and reduce the sauce. When the liquid has reduced by half, check the seasoning, add salt or pepper to taste, remove from heat and serve.

Serve with rice, pasta, or potatoes.

Recipe adapted from a chicken recipe by Georgeanne Brennan.

Links:

Rabbit with spring vegetables from Béa of La Tartine Gourmande
Rabbit stew with dumplings - Jamie Oliver's recipe posted on Serious Eats
Saddle of rabbit in applewood-smoked bacon with caramelized fennel - ala Thomas Keller, recounted by Carole of French Laundry at Home
Coniglio alla cacciatora by Sean of Hedonia
Rabbit with Pea and Fava Bean Purée from Nose to Tail at Home
Portuguese Rabbit Hunter Style - from David Leite

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39 Comments

  1. Andrew

    You can’t kill thumper!
    (someone had to say it)
    ;-)

  2. Chad

    I’ve never had rabbit before, but I’m willing to try it! I’ll give this a whirl.

  3. Mike

    It seems Andrew beat me to the punch…

    Thumper or not, it looks awesome though!

  4. peter

    Rabbit is sadly delicious…these bunnies were bred for good eats.

    The dish sounds like a wonderful fall Sunday dinner.

  5. Anonymous New York

    Mmmm! I love Thumper Cacciatore. And Bugs Bunny Risotto! Oooh, and Velveteen Rabbit sausage. :-)

  6. Claire

    First you plant the several rows of carrot and lettuce and spinach seeds. Then you wait for the green tops to poke out of the dirt. Then you watch the lovely green tops grow a bit more. Then, one morning, you notice that all of the greens have been munched down to a nub.

    Then you…..
    Sprinkle the rabbit pieces generously with salt and pepper. Rub half of the thyme leaves into the pieces, then sprinkle with flour to lightly coat….

    Hah! LOL ~Elise

  7. Bevson

    We were just talking about eating rabbit the other day! Many people are turned off by the cute factor but they are delicious. My supermarket sells them frozen.

  8. vern

    As a boy I regularly hunted rabbits, both cottentail and jack rabbits for the table. They are easily as versatile as chicken and are much more flavorful. I only wish I could easilly buy domestic rabbit.

  9. Sean

    It’s quite the effort to butcher a rabbit, eh? I don’t know about you, but DPaul and I went into it with the expectation it would be sorta like a chicken, and boy is it not. Then again, neither of us has ever butchered a mammal before, so there you go. Still, it’s worth the effort. I just wish it were more readily available (and less expensive!).

  10. Bob

    I’ve never managed to get my hands on rabbit. It’s not easily available around me. I want to try it wicked bad though, I’ve heard it’s great.

    • Rick

      If you’re near Brooksville FL I can hook you up with young, tasty rabbits.

  11. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    I am crazy about rabbit! I’ve only made it once – in a white wine sauce – but I loved it! I ate it often when I was in Italy. I wish fresh rabbit was available around here. I can only get frozen ones.

    Your dish has me drooling! It looks wonderful. I may have to break down and go for the frozen kind, just to try this.

  12. Lynn

    We raised rabbits when I was growing up. We ate it all the time. It is really good. Thanks for the recipe.

  13. jonathan

    Hewwo. This wooks absowutewy dewicious. I appwove of this wecipe vewwy, vewwy much. – Elmer J. Fudd (Wabbit Hunter)

  14. Garrett

    Hot dang, I love rabbit. Tasty, tasty food, best served with honey glazed carrots. ;)

  15. Pille

    I’m expecting a delivery of two rabbits this Sunday – courtesy of my brother-in-law’s dad, who raises rabbits. I knew what to do with one of them – and now have a recipe for the other one, too!

  16. Tsara_Be

    Mmmh yummy rabbit! Next time, you should try it with wustard sauce or with rhum… delicious! You gave me an idea, Sunday’s lunch will be rabbit! It’s easily available over here !

  17. Brenda

    This really sounds and looks delicious. When I was young, my Dad would take me hunting with him and we hunted squirrels and rabbits. He was very good at hitting what he aimed at so we would always have enough to share with the neighbors when we got home. After we cleaned them, Mama would put the meat in salted water and let them soak over night. The next day she would boil the cut up rabbit or squirrel, whichever we had, until she could stick a fork through the thickest piece. When she could do that she would take the meat out, let it drain then dredge the pieces in flour and fry in oil in an iron skillet. When it was brown, she would take it out and make a roux with a little flour in that same pan and then use some of the water, that they were boiled in, poured into the roux to make gravy. I know this sounds long but it is well worth it. It isn’t as fancy as your recipe but it was good eating when I was younger. Love your blog.

  18. Kerry

    If you are having trouble finding rabbit locally, you can find reputable online sales of this toothsome treat. A google search of “rabbit meat sales” will yield some sources. I have ordered some in the past that arrived frozen and well packed in gel-packs and pre-cut. I will order it again.

    For those who want to know; I used ardengrabbit.com out of South Carolina and I was happy with the result. Note that it does take time and planning to get the meat delivered. The website you choose should make this detail clear in their shippping section.

  19. iffet

    While I was reading, I was just thinking “killing rabbits.” However, we are killing other animals to eat, right. It is just not so common.

    It used to be a lot more common in the US than it is today, mostly due to the demise of neighborhood butchers and the rise of pre-packaged meat in supermarkets. Rabbit is still very common in other cultures. ~Elise

  20. Ernesto

    I grew up eating rabbit pretty frequently at my grandmother’s house. We are from Puerto Rico and in her hometown it has historically been an important part of the local cuisine. There’s a great little restaurant called El Conejo Blanco (The White Rabbit) that serves rabbit all sorts of wonderful ways. Haven’t had it in years but you have inspired me and I expect to make some sometime if my wife feels up to the challenge.

  21. Maggie (Pithy and Cleaver)

    This looks delicious. I think we may be able to get rabbit at the farmer’s market, or the butcher in the Essex St Market.

  22. Tina

    Haha~ That was a great story.. Picking out the cutest only having to eat it a few hours later–at least you found a love for rabbit instead of being scarred for life. =)

  23. BethBeth

    And, I wondered what we were going to do with the pet bunny my daughter brought home without asking. J/K!

  24. Marita

    When I was in 7th grade I raised rabbits for 4H. My dad would butcher them and my mom cooked them up for us for dinner. I enjoyed the meat, but my favorite part was torturing my mom while we ate with comments like “Mmm, Strawberry (or whatever the bunny’s name was) sure is delicious …” For some reason it bothered her a lot more than it did me, and she was raised on a farm! 13-year-olds sure can be mean ;-)

  25. Hank

    Thanks for the link, Elise! I can attest that frozen rabbit is just as delicious as fresh, so go to the freezer sections of your local high-end (or at least middle-end) supermarket and you’ll find them. And almost every reputable butcher shop will either have rabbit or be able to get it for you.

    I will have to cook a hare for you some time, Elise. Totally different animal; they are red meat, like a light-colored beef. Deeply, deeply savory…

  26. cindy Rose

    I had to write. When I saw Rabbit Cacciatore. I grew up in the midwest and my dad would go rabbit hunting in season. My mom would make it into Rabbit Cacciatore with polenta. yummmmm
    Thanks for posting this recipe.

  27. barbara

    I grew up on a farm and my mother trapped rabbits which she then cleaned and cooked for our dinner.

  28. Nate

    I’ve eaten Bambi and Kermit but never Thumper! Have had too many pets that my daughter has had – Mr. Big, Snowball, Kakimochi – all of whom had the run of the place.

  29. Kim

    As a youngster we spent a few days in the charming city of Cuernavaca, Mexico. I have never had rabbit, that being said your recipe looks delicous and if you were to serve it; I would most certainly try it.

  30. Susan

    I’ll have to make that with chicken. It sounds delicious! Rabbit-uh uh. Just. can’t. do. it.
    Not logical, I know, but there you are.

    Thanks for the many wonderful recipes!

  31. Katrina

    My parents raised rabbits when I was young and pretty much lied to us one night for dinner and told us we were having chicken. It really does taste like chicken! After we told them how good it was, they told us it was the rabbits we’d grown to love. ;( We all got over it and kept eating it throughout time, except my oldest sister who was about 12 at the time. She became a vegetarian.

  32. theCook

    In France, eating rabbit meat is quite common. My only problem with it: so many tiny bones, not easy to eat!

  33. Traci in Texas

    I too grew up eating rabbit. We had a huge garden and butchered bunnies twice a month to keep us fed. We weren’t poor, but being frugal allowed us to have money for other things …

    I’ve not eaten bunny since I tried my hand at raising them about a decade ago.

    You make me want to go find some rabbit…

  34. Sage Cat

    I love rabbit and have cooked it in the past.
    But, now that I have 2 rabbit pets running around my house – I just can’t bring myself to cook it a home any more!
    I guess I will have to go over to some one else’s house to cook – he,he,he.

  35. Rema

    I’m giving this a try tonight! It will be my first time having rabbit that I can remember! My parents may have fed it to us as kids without telling us :)

  36. David

    I hunt alot and rabbit is really good, but I have to say squirrel is better and a bit easier to kill if you don’t have beagles. I’ll have to try this one :)

  37. Lisa

    I think it was in the movie My Life as a Dog — there’s a scene in which a little city boy sees a farm-dwelling relative skin a rabbit she’s just killed. The rabbit is hanging there, and the relative says, as she makes a cut or something and then pulls the fur all the way down its body, “See? This is the way we take off the bunny’s pajamas.” That has stayed with me for years, for some reason!

    I’d love to try a cacciatore with rabbit.

  38. Alex

    I made this with a few slight changes (because I can’t follow a recipe to save my life). I added some Rotel chilies and shredded the meat instead of cooking it in chunks. It was absolutely delicious. Thanks for posting this recipe!

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