Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Rabbit Popular Dish in Europe ; Italian Recipe Could Whet U.S. Appetite for It

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Rabbit Popular Dish in Europe ; Italian Recipe Could Whet U.S. Appetite for It

Article excerpt

Rabbit is a popular meat in Europe and I can't figure out why people here don't eat it more often. To my taste, it similar to but far better than chicken, all white meat, more tender and sweet and without skin, gristle or fat. If an unknowing person were fed a dish of boneless rabbit, they'd probably ask what on earth the farmer fed that chicken to make it taste so wonderful.

It's also healthy. According to, a 100 gram (roughly a 4-ounce) serving of cooked rabbit (legs and loin averaged) contains 29 grams of protein and only 8 grams of fat and 197 calories, which is similar nutritionally to skinless roasted chicken.

One of my favorite dishes, Coniglio Friulano, comes from the north-easternmost Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a small region tucked between Venice, the Austrian Alps and Slovenia.

Coniglio means rabbit in Italian, so the name simply means "Friulian rabbit." The recipe comes from Marlena di Blasi's excellently researched "Regional Foods of Northern Italy," from 1997.

This fabulous dish is a collection of Friulian traditional foods. The region is hilly with only a small area of agricultural land, so game has always been a staple there.

It is flavored with speck, a special prosciutto smoked over juniper, available only from the Italian Alps (available at Vecchio's in Newburgh, or substitute with bacon, regular prosciutto or pancetta) and finished with dried plums, a favorite in Friulian desserts, soaked in brandy or Italian grappa.

The ingredients are braised in white wine and served over soft polenta, which is often the starch of choice in Friuli, replacing pasta or the risottos of Venice.

And it is amazing. The sweetness of the sauce compliments the richness of the meat perfectly, while the wine adds just enough acid to keep it fresh. It's a comforting stew, yet light enough to be enjoyed in summer. You just can't go wrong with this recipe.

The technique for braising rabbit is the same as it is for chicken. The meat is first browned quickly on all sides in butter or oil, and set aside.

In the same large skillet or Dutch oven, the leeks and other aromatics are sauted, then the rabbit is returned and the pan deglazed with white wine and chicken stock.

The whole concoction is simmered slowly on the stovetop or in the oven until the meat is falling off the bones and the sauce is reduced.

Prunes soaked in brandy are added last, as the dish is finishing.

You may substitute rabbit for chicken in any braised recipe with great results. Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian and the original "chicken" cacciatore was made with rabbit. I tremble to think of Chicken Marbella cooked with rabbit (see recipe below). Serve it with rice.

Find rabbits for cooking in the freezer sections of many larger or gourmet grocery stores. Fresh rabbit is periodically available at Cut Rate Market on Lincoln Avenue. …

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