Rabbits are Italy’s most popular wild game, due to both their abundance and their status as fine fare. Coniglio allo spiedo, a classic Italian preparation for rabbit, blends fresh herbs with lemon juice and olive oil, then adds the sweetness of a honey glaze that protects the meat as it slow-roasts over glowing hardwood coals. This recipe also works for squirrels.
1 whole rabbit, skinned and gutted
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 sage leaves
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tsp. peppercorns
1 tsp. kosher salt
For the glaze:
1⁄4 cup reserved marinade
2 Tbsp. honey
3 sprigs rosemary
Make the marinade: Pour the olive oil into a medium bowl and whisk in the lemon juice and zest. Stir in the sage, garlic, rosemary, peppercorns, and salt. Place the whole rabbit in a zip-seal bag, and add the marinade. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Marinate the rabbit, in the refrigerator or cooler, for no more than 4 hours. When ready to cook, remove the rabbit from the bag (reserve the marinade), pat dry, and let rest on a plate for 30 minutes to come up to room temperature.
To make the glaze, pour 1⁄4 cup of the marinade into a small pot set over medium heat. Whisk the honey into the warmed marinade.
Start a fire of dried hardwood. Build a rotisserie by driving two forked sticks of green wood, 1 inch in diameter or thicker, into the ground toward the front edge of the fire. Continue feeding the fire by adding wood to the back and raking hot coals toward the front. Skewer the rabbit lengthwise with another green-wood stick about 2 feet long. Use two thin skewers threaded through the front and rear quarters to hold the rabbit in place.
Set the rabbit in the forked sticks, which should be 8–10 inches above ground, and rake hot coals under the rotisserie. Cook the rabbit, turning occasionally. Tie the rosemary sprigs together; use them to brush the glaze onto the rabbit until it is cooked through to an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Remove the rabbit from the skewer, quarter it, and season with salt and pepper before serving.