Rabbit is available at many specialty markets, if not fresh then frozen, or can usually be ordered from your local butcher.
Whole rabbits are harder to break down than chickens, so ask your butcher to part it out for you (you may need to call ahead so they can defrost one, if all they have are frozen rabbits). Or you can check out Hank's steps for cutting up a rabbit.
This is a pretty basic rabbit with prunes preparation. You can easily dress it up with some stewed tomatoes and or olives. Some recipes call for soaking the olives in cognac and adding them in at the very end, which would be good too.
- One 3 to 3 1/2 pound rabbit, cut into six to eight serving parts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3-4 large shallots, sliced, about 1 cup
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock with a tablespoon of vinegar)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 7 ounces (200 grams) pitted prunes (dried plums)
- Several sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 rabbit liver (optional, should be sold with the rabbit)
- 1 Tbsp vinegar (optional)
1 Brown the rabbit pieces in butter: Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large thick-bottomed Dutch oven (I used a 5 quart) on medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter. Pat dry the rabbit pieces, sprinkle all over with salt, and working in batches, brown on all sides in the pan.
2 Sauté shallots, garlic, deglaze with white wine: Remove the rabbit pieces from the pan. Add the sliced shallots, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic clove and cook for 30 seconds more.
Add the white wine and increase the heat to high. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine boil, until reduced by at least a half.
3 Place rabbit, prunes, thyme, bay leaf, on top of shallots in pan, cover and cook: Lower the heat to low (you may want to move the pot to the smallest burner on your stove). Arrange the rabbit pieces, prunes, thyme, and bay leaf in the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.
Cover tightly and let cook for 45 minutes. (Cooking time assumes you are starting with a rabbit that has been brought to near room temp before cooking. If you are using a rabbit straight from the fridge, it may take a few more minutes to cook through. Also, if you keep lifting up the lid to check on the rabbit, it will increase the needed cooking time.)
4 Optional step using rabbit liver: After the rabbit is cooked through, if you want, you can intensify the flavor of the sauce using the rabbit's liver. The liver should have been included with the rabbit from your butcher, just like whole chickens come with the giblets. (Don't worry, the liver won't make your dish taste like liver. You can even try just a little amount to taste to make sure. The liver acts as a "liaison", thickening the sauce and making it richer.)
Purée the rabbit liver with 1 Tbsp of vinegar (I used wine vinegar, but cider or white vinegar will do). Remove the rabbit pieces, prunes, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf from the pot (discard thyme and bay leaves) to a serving dish.
Whisk the puréed liver vinegar mixture into the sauce in the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. (If the sauce is still too thin, you can thicken further with corn starch or flour.) Then drizzle the sauce over and around the rabbit and prunes.
Great served over egg noodles.