Roasted Rabbit or Coniglio Con Pomodoro
From a culinary perspective, I’m always surprised by what one culture finds appealing and another finds foreign and strange. For example, in parts of Sicilia consuming raw snails is thought to fight gastrointestinal disorders and in Tuscany (and other parts of Italy) pork blood pie is prized (and it’s tied to the idea of not wasting any part or substance of the animal).
While fairly common in most parts of Europe, eating rabbit is thought to be a bit strange in most parts of the United States. Specifically, rabbit is consumed in large quantities in southern Italy and most families living in smaller villages raise and keep a small litter of rabbits for the dinner table.
Our family in Italy kept rabbits on the farm and also on a small patch of land behind the family home in the village of Pellegrina. Our favorite way to prepare rabbit is in the oven with herbs, onion, garlic, tomato, and white wine. Finding fresh rabbit used to be difficult in the United States and especially if you lived outside of one of the major urban areas. Today, the web allows lovers of food to find any ingredient (and at the highest quality).
Here’s a classic roasted rabbit recipe from Calabria (Coniglio Con Pomodoro, Cipolla, Vino, e Le Erbe). If you’re interested in how to butcher your own rabbit, Saveur has an excellent online tutorial. Rabbit has the same flavor components of chicken (there’s also dark and white meat) but with more moisture and flavor. You can serve rabbit with a fennel salad and thinly fried potatoes and onion.
- 1 whole rabbit cleaned and cut into parts
- Fresh parsley
- 1 small Mason jar of pomodori pelati or 5-6 fresh plum tomatoes with the skin and seeds removed
- 1-2 teaspoons of good dried oregano from Italy
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 5-6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion (note: scallions are shown in the photo and can be used as well)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- Good dry white wine (about 2-3 cups or enough to cover, partially, the rabbit parts in the pan)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Start by adding a good amount of Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to the rabbit parts. Thereafter, preheat a large pan (adding the oil) and sear the rabbit parts; here you're looking to add some color and a bit of flavor to the exterior of the meat.
- Next move the seared meat into a large roasting pan and add your chopped onion, red pepper flakes, tomato pieces, garlic, oil, chopped parsley, and oregano. Add the wine (to barely cover) the meat in the roasting pan and place in a 375 degrees F oven for 90 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil.