Sicilian Rabbit Stew

After a delightful trip to Taormina, we had sufficiently wetted out appetite for culture and decided on another day trip, in the opposite direction for a trip down to Catania (the capital of the region), for a highly recommended trip to the fish market.

Sicilian Hunter's Rabbit Stew and Catania's Fish Market

Like so many european costal towns, every morning all the local fishermen haul in their catches a shore and head for the market to scatter their wares upon the lucky locals. The market only runs in the morning, so we were up at the crack of 10am to make sure we didn’t miss out.

Sicilian Hunter's Rabbit Stew

Unlike the quaint Taormina, Catania is a larger, far busier city. Not the prettiest, but a great spot for a bit of retail therapy and some authentic Sicilian street food.

Sicilian Hunter's Rabbit Stew and Catania's Fish Market

Sicilian Hunter's Rabbit Stew and Catania's Fish Market - Fud Restaurant

After a nosey around the shops, (we didn’t buy any fish for fear of it rotting in the car) the petrol fumes and heat got a bit much for the boys so we stopped for lunch at a charming little wine cafe called Fud for paninis, salads and honking great big potato wedges, to plan the important meal of the day… dinner.

We established that the housekeeper (known to us as Lemoncello, based on his evain bottle of neon yellow) was a game hunter. Although this was supposed to be my week off, with no cooking, I had mentioned, to my detriment, that I liked to cook and ended up lumbered with a couple of rabbits. Bloody typical.

Fortunately they were cleaned out and beheaded, I didn’t want to be the one to gut poor flopsy, mopsy and cotton tail! Seeing as we were in the right setting, with olives and good wine in abundance I went authentic and did them Sicilian, hunters style, with fresh tomatoes, plenty of booze and an armful of aromatics.

We used the local white wine of the region and lots of the fresh rosemary and thyme that was growing in the garden. If you haven’t cooked rabbit before, it is a meat most similar to chicken, just a bit leaner. So an easy substitutio can be made although I would recommend you try rabbit. It can be sourced in most good butchers and is often a lot cheaper than other game, thanks to its unpopularity. I blame Disney for that! It is definitely best seared and slow cooked, much in the same way as you might do with a chicken cacciatore, or a stew. This was one I simmered for 1 1/2 hours over the stove, had there been an oven available, then I would have cooking it at 160 degrees celsius / gas mark 3 for the same amount time.

Ingredients

  • 2 rabbits, cut in pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • carrots, sliced
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • a small handful of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped parsley stalks and thyme leaves
  • 230ml/ 1 cup white wine
  • 460ml/ 2 cups chicken stock
  • 400g can plum tomatoes, 
  • 100g green olives, pitted (picholine are the best)


Sicilian Hunters Rabbit - Tess Ward

Method

Pat the rabbit pieces dry with paper towels and season with a little salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in large heavy casserole dish and fry the pieces of rabbit, in batches, until each piece is lightly browned on all sides.

Remove them to a bowl or large plate with a slotted spoon. Add the garlic, carrots, onions, celery and cook low and slow (sweat) until the onions are soft.

Add the herbs and continue cooking for a further minute. Return the rabbit pieces to the casserole dish.

Add wine and bring it to a boil, to release all the sticky meat cooking juices. Add chicken stock, tomatoes and olives to the pan. Briefly stir, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about an hour and 30 minutes, or until the rabbit is tender. If more liquid is needed, add a little chicken stock or water during cooking.

Once the rabbit is cooked, check the seasoning and serve.

We ate it with steamed brown rice and green beans, the boys also gobbled up the leftovers with pasta. Gluten-free, spelt or plain durum, any sort of pasta works, depending on your preference.

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