Stefano’s farmed rabbit old-style

Stefano’s farmed rabbit old-style

Nuovo Mondo
Alan Benson

This is a recipe from my sister-in-law Milena, who farms her own rabbits and gets my brother Tony to prepare them. He tells me he finds the killing process repugnant and always closes his eyes when doing it. He also bans everyone from the shed and talks sweetly to the rabbits before the final act. Make the sauce the day before for best results.


Quantity Ingredient
2kg large farmed rabbit, deboned, ask your butcher to do this
olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, diced
1 pork sausage, meat removed from the skin
or 150g minced pork shoulder
150g minced beef
150g minced chicken or turkey
50g fine fresh breadcrumbs
1 flat-leaf parsley
10 sage leaves
1 free-range egg
100g grana padano cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Quantity Ingredient
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
200g minced beef
200g minced pork
1 rabbit liver
or 150g chicken livers, chopped
6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion has softened. Add the beef and pork and cook over medium heat. Add enough hot water to cover and keep things moist for at least 1 hour. Reduce the heat to low, then add the liver, anchovies and capers and cook for a further 1 hour, adding extra water to keep things moist. When the meat is soft, like a bolognese, add the pepper. The sauce should be peppery, of a nice consistency, slightly salty and piquant. Remove from the heat, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight for the flavours to develop.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a roasting tin with baking paper.
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it has softened, then remove from the heat and add to a large bowl with the combined pork, beef and chicken, the breadcrumbs, parsley, sage, egg and cheese, and season with salt and pepper. If you like, cook a little sample to taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Place the rabbit on to a clean bench, spread the stuffing over the rabbit, roll, then truss with kitchen string.
  4. Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the rabbit, rubbing it in and season. Roast in the oven for up to 45 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes in a warm place.
  5. To serve, reheat the sauce. Slice the rabbit and place on warmed serving plates. Baste with the cooking juices. Serve the sauce in a jug or gravy boat alongside. Accompany the roast with hot slices of grilled polenta. Any leftover sauce is good for crostini or more grilled polenta. It will keep well refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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