If you have never tried rabbit, you should. It is very good meat, similar to chicken but more flavorful. It can be found in many grocery stores in the frozen food section. And there are some mail order sources for domestic rabbit that you can find online. Of course, if there is a hunter in the family, use wild rabbit. For this recipe, I use a whole rabbit cut into pieces. However, it is excellent using just the legs, which I think are my favorite cut.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
- 4 ounces slab bacon, diced
- 1 whole rabbit, about 3 pounds, cut into pieces (see notes below)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) whole tomatoes, broken up, with juices
Preheat oven to 350° F. Heat a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the bacon and sauté until lightly browned. Remove bacon from pan. Sprinkle the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge in the flour, shaking off excess. If necessary, add a little more oil to the pan. Add the rabbit, in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the rabbit from the pan. Add the green peppers, carrots, celery, onions and garlic; sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, sage, thyme and tomato paste. Stir well to combine and cook about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir well to scrape up all the browned bits in the pan. Then add the tomatoes; season again with salt and pepper. Return the rabbit, bacon and any accumulated juices to the pan. Spoon some sauce over all of the rabbit. Cover tightly. Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until the rabbit is well done and tender. Remove from oven and, if desired, place on a high-heat burner to reduce the sauce until the desired thickness. Serve immediately.
Notes: To cut a rabbit into pieces, first remove the hind legs, then the front legs, then cut the saddle into 2 or 3 pieces. If you do not have slab bacon, use cut up slices.