Ischia Island is currently a hot culinary destination, but for much of its history the island was very poor. Some of the most well-known recipes on the island feature foods that were easy to forage or capture, including rabbit, which plays a leading role in this traditional rabbit in red wine recipe. Make sure to use a full-bodied dry Italian red wine, such as Nebbiolo or Amarone, which lends authenticity and robustness to the dish.–Gianni Scappin | Vincenzo Lauria
LC Seek Help Note
Too squeamish to cut the rabbit up yourself? Ask your butcher to do it for you—and remember to specify that you’d like the liver reserved, as it adds a scrumptious richness to the finished stew. If you’re not squeamish but simply lacking in experience, perhaps your butcher would even go as far as to oblige you with a show and tell so that you can joint the meat at home next time. And rest assured, you’re going to want there to be a next time.
Rabbit in Red Wine, Ischia Style
- 1 (about 3 1/4 pound) rabbit cut up, liver reserved
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 carrots cut into medium dice
- 2 celery stalks cut into medium dice
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
- 1 fresh bay leaf torn into pieces
- 1/4 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 bottle full-bodied dry red wine
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pat the rabbit pieces dry with paper towels.
- In a large bowl, combine the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon, and cloves. Pour in the red wine and mix well. Add the rabbit pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
- When you’re ready to cook, remove the rabbit from the red wine marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade, reserving the wine. Remove the bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves and reserve. Roughly chop the vegetables.
- Dredge the rabbit pieces in flour and shake off any excess. Heat a casserole, large enough to hold the meat, over low heat. Add the oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the rabbit pieces and saute until well colored on all sides. Remove the rabbit pieces using a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same casserole, add the vegetables from the marinade and cook until translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add back the rabbit pieces, season with salt and pepper, and pour in the red wine reserved from the marinade. Add the reserved bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves. Cover and gently bring to a simmer over low heat for about 1 hour; the rabbit should cook very slowly.
- Chop the rabbit’s liver very fine and add it to the casserole. Let simmer for another 10 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, the wine should be completely absorbed and the sauce should be quite dense. To make the sauce more uniform, you may pass it through a food mill with the smallest disc. Serve the rabbit very hot, accompanied by your favorite polenta (Our favorite polenta), and perhaps a bottle of the same wine you used to cook the rabbit.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
As long as you remember to prep everything ahead of time, this rabbit in red wine recipe can actually be an easy weeknight dinner. I did all the prep the night before, so the rabbit ended up marinating for more than 12 hours. The end result was a very juicy, tender rabbit, though not quite fall-off-the-bone tender (which was actually nice, seeing as rabbit has such small bones they’d be lost in the sauce). The sauce itself was very hearty and tasted similar to that of coq au vin. Everyone absolutely loved this and asked me to make it again, so it’s a keeper of a recipe. I can imagine it being just as good with other meats, such as venison or even chicken thighs. We served it with rice.
Originally published October 27, 2009