Pan-roasted rabbit

Although here people think of rabbit mostly like fluffy, nice pets warm and cuddly, I think of rabbits as a succulent piece of meat that you roast and eat with your favorite sides. I know I might sound cruel, but I assure you I have never killed anyone’s pet rabbit to cook me some stew.
Anyway here rabbits are mostly pets, with the result that is kind of difficult to buy a rabbit to cook. About a year ago I bought a rabbit at the farmer’s market. I cooked it with olives and pine nuts (typical of Liguria) and then I had to trow it all out because it was rubbery and chewy and generally speaking inedible. It was a terrible culinary debacle and the dinner guests still make fun of me for that night rabbit.

I told the sad story to my mom, and my mom comforted me telling me it was probably a bad rabbit. That made me feel better, but still I didn’t try myself at rabbit for quite a while.
Then a couple of weeks ago I went shopping at an halal butcher and I saw a very good looking rabbit and decided to try again. After much debating, self-convincing and a long phone consultation with my mom AKA the rabbit queen, I finally brought myself to cook the rabbit. And… turned out great!!! So proud of myself!

Pan-roasted rabbit

Yield: 4 Servings


  • rabbit
  • garlic
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • salt
  • pepper
  • water or broth
  • EVOO


  1. Here is what I did. First I cut the rabbit down. I was trying to find a video on YouTube to show you how I did it but all the videos are extremely complicated. I simply took a meat cleaver and imitated what I have seen butchers in Italy do: I cut the rabbit in 4 parts: back legs, 2 pieces for the bust (what in Italy we call the saddle) and another piece front legs. Then I divided the leg pieces in two so that each piece was only one leg.
  2. Then I put some oil with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, sage and rosemary in a pan that can comfortably contain the rabbit. I put the pan on the stove and let the garlic brown up.
  3. At this point I added the rabbit pieces and seared them on all sides until it was all well browned. Season with salt and pepper and add a splash of wine. After the wine evaporated, I covered the pan and let it cook adding water from time to time, because rabbit tends to dry out quite a bit.
  4. The rabbit should cook for about 40-50 minutes if it is farm raised and almost 2 hours if it is free range.
  5. I served my rabbit with polenta but works well also with roasted potatoes or any other side that would work for roasted chicken.

Coniglio arrosto

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6 Responses to Pan-roasted rabbit

  1. Barb says:

    This is awesome! I want to add that we used the sweet, tender rabbit liver, too. Just pan fry in chopped onion, salt and pepper. Sear it and don’t over do it. Head to tail, right? 😉

  2. Carol says:

    I was raised, in midwest America, on fried rabbit with gravy. Then I ended up traveling to Florence, Italy and saw rabbit on the menu. Of course I had to try it….heavenly! As we were leaving the restaurant, I could see back into the kitchen. What I saw was amazing! The largest roaster I’d even seen and roasted rabbits stacked as high as they could stack them. I knew I had enjoyed the meal and everyone at the table wanted to taste ‘my’ meal; They loved it also. Once again I am returning to Florence and can hardly wait to enjoy this delicious delicacy.

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  4. Kimby says:

    Food that's well prepared is delicious, even if it isn't what folks normally eat. (Or their idea of what's "normal" for an entree, etc.) Great prep tips, thanks to you and the Rabbit Queen. 🙂

  5. Pola says:

    I have rather adventurous friends that have come to trust me when it comes to food. They were even happy to eat tongue!

  6. Frank says:

    I'm with you. I love rabbit. Even have a few rabbit recipes on my blog, including one with olives and pinoli–it was delicious!

    I usually don't serve it to guests, however, for all the reasons you mention. I once, rather naughtily, tried to pass rabbit off as chicken. Well, when I finally admitted to my guests what it was, most of them just laughed but one of my guests was so angry with me that she literally never spoke to me again…

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