Braised Rabbit With Rosemary & Niçoise Olives

There’s further incentive to hit the bunny brush this season

braised rabbit
The Rabbit’s Ready: When the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, it’s time to serve your small-game feast.Photograph by Levi Brown; food styling by Roscoe Betsill

Marco Canora, whose Italian-inflected cooking at New York City’s Hearth restaurant has earned him a bevy of awards and critical raves, has a simple but devastatingly good way to cook rabbit: seared, then bathed in a sauce of red wine, olives, and rosemary. It’s equally good with ducks.

What You Will Need

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 rabbits, cut into 10 pieces each

About 7 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup dry red wine

1 medium onion, peeled and minced

1 carrot, peeled and minced

1 celery stalk, minced

2 Tbsp. tomato paste 1 bunch rosemary sprigs (about 3 or 4), tied together

5 cups chicken stock

1⁄2 cup Niçoise olives, pitted if desired

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

[1] Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. In a large oven-safe skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the rabbit, in batches to avoid crowding the pan, and sear on both sides until brown and crusty. Add 1 Tbsp. oil for the second batch, if needed, and reduce the heat if it starts to burn. Reserve the browned rabbit in a bowl.

[2] Pour the wine into the pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to incorporate the tasty brown bits. Let the wine simmer for about 2 minutes, then pour it onto the reserved rabbit. Wipe out the skillet.

[3] Add the remaining 4 Tbsp. oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and rosemary; stirring frequently, cook until the tomato paste begins to darken, about 5 minutes.

[4] Return the rabbit to the pan, along with the wine and any accumulated juices. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, then add the stock (it should come about halfway up the sides of the rabbit pieces; use more or less as necessary) and bring to a boil. Add the olives, then transfer the pan to the oven and cook for an hour, or until the rabbit is very tender. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Season with salt and pepper.