Normally I’m quite fond of rabbits, and enjoy seeing them hopping about in that rabbit way of theirs. 

The trouble began when we planted a heap of young trees out the front of the house and someone didn’t want them there.

Old fashioned ring-barking – tree after the young tree died.  And the culprits were our bounding bunnies, who, it turns out like to romp in unforested pastures best of all.  In short, they garden by discouraging trees to thrive.

This hasn’t been helped by a rabbit explosion in our part of the woods.  Where there was one, then there were twenty-two.  The action had to be taken, and out went the hunter with the gun. 

He returned, not long after, with one of the varmints which were soon prepared for the pan.  Luckily, we happen to have one of the best recipes for dealing with bunnies.

Our friend Gianpaolo cooked us it one winter night many years ago.  His grandmother used to make it for him in Sardinia, he said.  I told him I didn’t like rabbits, and could we get hamburgers.  This was wrong of me, and now I soon saw the error of my ways. 

The rabbit was tender, a subtle flavour blended with olives, garlic and herbs.  He cooked it slowly and the sauce was reduced to a taste sensation.  My instinct would have been to add more liquid, but this was frowned upon.

We had this dish a few days ago, and it is every bit as wonderful as I remembered.  It was a young animal and needed less time cooking. 

Rabbit has a slightly more intense flavour than chicken, which is sometimes used as a substitute for it.  After the rabbit was jointed, we put it in a bowl, covered it with water, and added a dessertspoon of salt.  This was kept in the fridge for a few days.  I’ve even seen rabbits for sale in the local supermarket, so you don’t even have to send the hunter out.  Although if you want those newly planted trees to live...

Hunter’s rabbit with olives

  • 1 rabbit, jointed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • fresh sage leaves and oregano
  • 4 rashers bacon, chopped
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tomatoes
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 12 black olives, unstoned

Brown rabbit pieces in a hot skillet, with olive oil.  When golden, add garlic and herbs.  Add bacon, chilli and capers.

Crush tomatoes into the skillet, add salt and pepper, olives and a glass of wine.

Cover skillet and cook the rabbit slowly, on the stovetop, for about an hour and a half, or until tender.  Add more wine if it becomes dry.