Although rabbit and hare dishes are enjoyed all over Portugal, they’re most associated with the Estremadura and Ribatejo regions. If you’re squeamish about the thought of rabbit, you can use 3-pound butchered chicken, but, alas, the flavor won’t be same.–David Leite


Don’t be afraid to get the mushrooms really dark or to char the onions a bit. This is a rustic, woodsy dish, after all.

A large bowl filled with Portuguese rabbit hunter style, with a glass of red wine and a cutting board with slice baguette in the background.

Portuguese Rabbit Hunter Style

5 / 2 votes
This hearty Portuguese Rabbit dish is perfect for autumn. It originally called for the blood of the rabbit, which is a bit tough to find at your supermarket these days. Instead, I use the liver to add a bit more dimension and body along with bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories774 kcal
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes


  • 1/2 pound thick-sliced slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • One 3-pound rabbit, cut into 8 pieces, liver finely chopped and reserved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil, if needed
  • 10 ounces mixed mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium yellow onions, cut in half and then into thin half moons
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with their juice
  • 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus chopped leaves for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped sage leaves


  • Heat a large pot over medium-low heat until hot. Add the bacon and let it sizzle until the fat is rendered and the meaty bits are crunchy, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Generously season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high and sear the rabbit in the fat, working in batches if needed, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • If the pot is dry add a drizzle of olive oil. Lower the heat to medium, add the mushrooms, onions, and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply colored, 18 to 22 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes more.
  • Pour in the wine and let it burble for 30 seconds, then nestle in the rabbit pieces. Squash the tomatoes with your hands over the pot and add them along with their juice, the 2 parsley sprigs, oregano, and sage.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, add the reserved liver, and simmer, covered, until the rabbit is cooked through, about 1 hour. Toss the parsley and bay leaves. Taste the liquid and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  • If you’re so inclined, transfer the rabbit to a platter and with a slotted spoon scoop the vegetables into a small bowl. Turn the heat under the pot to high to thicken the liquid. Otherwise, arrange the rabbit in the middle of the platter and spoon the mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with the bacon. Pour a bit of the liquid over the top and serve the rest on the side. Shower the dish with parsley just before serving.


Serving: 1 servingCalories: 774 kcalCarbohydrates: 25 gProtein: 86 gFat: 31 gSaturated Fat: 10 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 313 mgSodium: 850 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 10 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 David Leite. Photo © 2009 amyinlondon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a delicious braised rabbit dish. The rabbit comes out very tender, and the rustic tomato sauce with the earthy onions and mushrooms complements the meat well. The amount of bacon may seem like a lot, but once it’s cooked down, it really isn’t that much, and it adds a nice flavor to the dish. The sauce did have a bit more liquid than I would’ve liked, although this’ll depend a lot upon your pan and how tight the lid fits. If you want less liquid, just transfer the rabbit pieces to a platter once they’re cooked, turn up the heat and simmer the liquid, uncovered, until it’s the desired consistency, then add the rabbit back to warm it. Like most braises, this’ll reheat splendidly. Because the sauce is very flavorful, I recommend a plain starch on the side—a simple risotto, polenta, potatoes, even just a chunk of bread.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Pomegranate-Glazed Cornish Game Hens

When it’s Thanksgiving for just a few of you, your response is game hens with a sweetly tart and pleasingly peppery glaze and a lovely little pine nut bread stuffing. Makes just enough.

2 hrs 30 mins

Venison Bolognese

Meet your newest fave way to prepare venison. Ridiculously rich and sigh inducingly satisfying.

3 hrs 45 mins

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Hello! Do you know what else is traditionally prepared with this meal? Or does it get served by itself?
    Thank you!

    1. Amy, rice and or boiled potatoes is an ideal and traditional side for this dish. In fact, that can be said for just about every Portuguese meal!

      1. Sounds like Peru, David. That whole USDA-endorsed notion of eating different colors every day for your health is sort of lost in some cultures…which is not to say they don’t eat “well,” it’s just a different sort of “well”…

        1. 5 stars
          Lived in Portugal for 4 years, rabbit is a staple.
          Alls I can say 5+ for you
          Followed recipe pretty much to a T.
          Just wow
          I used salt pork instead of bacon.
          You can smell it cooking outside

  2. 5 stars
    David, Ola! I tried this recipe and loved it. Sadly, I can’t say if your interpretation of this traditional recipe is spot on, or if my need to substitute herbs won the day. The method I followed is 100% the same as yours. I didn’t have sage or oregano available to me on Sunday. I used mint and thyme instead. A hit in my home. The ‘old-timers’ at the table who insist on the use of rabbit blood to make this dish had no clue that not one drop of blood was used.

    I am looking forward to your new book. I will make this dish to the letter — including the recommended herbs — soon to see which interpretation wins out. Cheers!!

    1. Olá, Fernando. Your herb combo sounds great. Hortelã da ribeira (an herb similar to mint) is used a lot in Algarvian (and somewhat in Alentejan and Ribatejan) cooking, so I think your combination is wonderful. Glad you liked the dish, and I’ll soon be trying your version.