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Italian Rabbit Stew

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Italian rabbit stew or Coniglio in umido. Tender meat smothered in a delicious white wine and tomato sauce with herbs and pine nuts.

close up stewed rabbit pieces italian style.

If you’ve never had rabbit, this Italian rabbit stew is a great recipe to start with, stewing is my favorite way of cooking rabbit. Or try this rich Rabbit Stew cooked with beer.

Why should you learn how to cook rabbit?

  • Delicious: Rabbit meat is tender, flavorful, versatile, and easy to cook.
  • Healthy: It has a very high protein content, more than beef or poultry, it’s very low fat and has a low cholesterol level, it has lots of iron and minerals. It’s also usually free of antibiotics and hormones.
  • Environmental-friendly: rabbits produce about 6 lbs/ 2.5 kg of meat on the same amount of food and water as a cow will need to produce 2.2 lbs/ 1 kg/ meat.

Recipe ingredients

listed ingredients for making stew with rabbit, tomatoes and wine.
  • Rabbit:
    • One whole or already cut rabbit, fresh or frozen. I usually buy them frozen; fresh rabbit is seldom available.
    • They are usually small; one weighs between 2.5-3.3 lbs/ 1.2-1.5 kg. And they weigh even less after I cut them into pieces because I don’t cook the backbone and the ribs in the stew; they don’t have enough meat on them.
    • You can also cook this recipe with only rabbit legs.
  • Herbs: Fresh parsley, fresh rosemary and sage (I forgot to put the sage in the pictures, but it’s there), and dried bay leaves.
  • Tomatoes: Preferably fresh, sweet ripe tomatoes. However, if the fresh tomatoes are not perfectly ripe, use a can of tomatoes instead.
  • Wine: Dry white wine.
  • Pine nuts: Try not to leave them out; they are excellent in this combination.
  • Other ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, butter, garlic, fine sea salt (or Kosher), black pepper.
overhead view of italian rabbit stewed with tomatoes.

How to cook a rabbit?

Defrost it

  • Defrost it in a deeper baking dish in the refrigerator to prevent the released water from messing up your refrigerator.
  • A small rabbit will need between 30-48 hours to defrost, so you must plan ahead.

Cut it

  • You will need a large cutting board and a sharp knife.
  • I cut it into six pieces: the hind legs, the front legs, and the back strap cut into two parts.
  • The belly flaps and the carcass are leftover; I use them to make an excellent stock that tastes like chicken stock.
  • See Roasted Rabbit for detailed instructions (with pictures) on cutting a whole rabbit into pieces.
cut rabbit pieces on a cutting board.

How to make the stew?

  • Cut and dry the rabbit pieces with kitchen towels.
  • Heat a large shallow Dutch oven or another large skillet for a couple of minutes. Add oil and butter.
  • Once the butter has melted, fry the meat on both sides on medium-high heat until golden, about 5 minutes per side (1,2).
collage of two pictures of frying rabbit pieces until golden.
  • Prepare vegetables: In the meantime, cut the garlic cloves into thin slices. If using fresh tomatoes, place them in a large pot and cover them with boiling water. Let stand for 1 minute, drain the water and remove the tomato peel. Chop the tomatoes into small cubes.
  • Add chopped garlic cloves to the pot and stir it for 1 minute. Pour in the white wine and let it bubble shortly.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, rosemary sprig, fresh sage leaves, salt, and pepper to taste (3).
  • Cook stew: Stir, cover the pot and simmer very gently for 30-35 minutes or until the rabbit is cooked through and tender (4).
collage of two pictures of cooking rabbit pieces in tomato sauce.

  • Roast nuts: In the meantime, roast the pine nuts in a dry pan.
roasting pine nuts in a pan.

  • Once the rabbit stew is cooked, stir in the chopped parsley and adjust the taste with salt a good grinding of black pepper.
  • Sprinkle it with pine nuts just before serving.

Expert tips

Cook the rabbit stew slowly. The meat tends to dry out, and simmering it in a lot of liquid will help it retain moisture and become tender and delicious.

When roasting the pine nuts, shake the pan often and don’t leave it unattended; the pine nuts can turn black within seconds. Transfer to a plate immediately.

Keep the pine nuts separated (in a small bowl) and sprinkle them on the rabbit stew just before serving.

Use the leftover rabbit bones to make stock.

Recipe FAQ

What does rabbit taste like?

Not gamey, if that is what you are worried about. It’s delicious and tastes a lot like chicken. If you cut the meat into small pieces without bones, people would probably not be able to tell that it’s not chicken.

How to store?

Once completely cool, refrigerate the Italian rabbit stew for up to 3 days and reheat it well before serving.
Freeze the leftovers (except the pine nuts) in an airtight container and defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat before serving.

How to serve?

I often serve this Italian rabbit recipe with polenta and green salad; we love the combination.

You can also serve the rabbit stew with crusty bread to mop up the sauce and a salad. Rice or potatoes are also great.

close up italian rabbit in tomato sauce.

More European stews

Do you like this recipe?

Please leave a good rating in the recipe card below. Stay in touch through social media: Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me #whereismyspoon when you try a recipe!
overhead view of italian rabbit stewed with tomatoes.

Italian Rabbit Stew

Italian rabbit stew or Coniglio in umido. Tender meat smothered in a delicious white wine and tomato sauce with herbs and pine nuts.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Meat Recipes
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 405kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Large, shallow Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot

Ingredients 

  • 1 rabbit about 3-3.3 lbs/ 1.2-1.5 kg Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 garlic cloves large
  • ½ cup dry white wine 125 ml
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 sage leaves large
  • 1 can tomatoes 14 oz/ 400 g Note 2
  • 2 tablespoon pine nuts
  • a small bunch of parsley
  • fine sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare rabbit: Cut the rabbit into 6 pieces: the hind legs, the front legs, and the back strap cut into two parts. The belly flaps and the carcass are leftover; they are great for making stock (Note 3). Dry the meat pieces with kitchen towels.
  • Sear meat: Heat a large shallow Dutch oven or another large heavy-bottomed pan. Add oil and butter. Fry the meat on both sides until golden, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Prepare vegetables: In the meantime, cut the garlic cloves into thin slices. If using fresh tomatoes, place them in a large pot and cover them with boiling water. Let stand for 1 minute, drain the water and remove the tomato peel. Chop the tomatoes into small cubes.
  • Add ingredients: Add the garlic to the pot and stir it for 1 minute. Pour in the white wine and let it bubble shortly. Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, rosemary sprig, sage leaves, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer: Stir, cover the pot and simmer very gently for 30-35 minutes or until the rabbit is cooked through and tender.
  • Roast the pine nuts in a dry pan. Shake the pan often and don’t leave it unattended; the pine nuts can burn within seconds. Transfer to a plate immediately.
  • Adjust taste: Once the rabbit stew is cooked, stir in the chopped parsley and adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle it with pine nuts just before serving.

Notes

  1. If frozen, defrost it in the refrigerator; it will take 30-48 hours.
  2. If available, use ripe sweet fresh tomatoes. If they are not as ripe as they can be, it’s better to use canned tomatoes.
  3. Check Roasted Rabbit for detailed instructions on how to cut a rabbit.

Nutrition

Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 210mg | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 1008mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 97IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 8mg
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