Rabbit Stifado (Κουνέλι-Στιφάδο)Dec 19th, 2008 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Braising, Greek, Main, Onions, Rabbit, Recipe, Spices, Stew, Wine
Lamb and sheep are cute animals, chickens are cute when they are born, calves are cute, turkeys are majestic with their plumage, deer are a adorable.
All the above animals do not posess the “Fugly” gene yet we eat them.
Rabbits are cute and sadly delicious!
I just wanted to draw the parallel before any hypocrites write or opine saying…oh but rabbits are so cute and cuddly. Creampuff the the white-tailed bunny is cute, adorable and untouchable.
Sammy the the fornicating bunny at the ranch has been bred to be eaten and in my opinion, is totally fair game in this cut-throat food chain that is Earth.
If you’re a vegetarian…this post is not for you. I am cutting up a rabbit here into pieces, browning it off in a pot and braising it until the meat forks off the bone.
Rabbit is good eats.
Stifado is a Greek stew of lots & lots of onions, some tomato product and a protein being the usual ingredients. The most popular Stifados are made with rabbit or hare but I’ve also enjoyed beef or veal, octopus and rooster stifado.
One of my earliest (and fondest) memories of Stifado goes back to my visit to Greece in 1988. I was in my father’s town (Amynteon, Florinis), staying with relatives and my Uncle Pavlo (bless his soul) had shot a huge wild hare on his farmland.
Like with any wild game, the meat is wilder tasting and tougher as the animal has developed more muscle mass and it’s diet is more complex that the farm fare of it’s rabbit cousins.
Hare demands that it be marinated overnight in red wine, herbs, spices and then cooked in a slow braise that ultimately becomes an aromatic stew that will perfume your home.
So, many ask why eat rabbit when one can have chicken? Easy…at least you know you’re eating rabbit – not some Franken-chicken that you bought cut up into pieces, wrapped in plastic by Dexter and removed of any evidence of having two heads!
I apologize to no one for my food choices, especially when it comes to my delight in eating rabbit. Oh sure, the pet store gang of rabbits are the elite, untouchable ones but my farm-raised rabbit has probably had more action than any of us have seen in our lifetime.
The sacrifical rabbit is justified and I’m going to share this Stifado dish which celebrates Greek cooking at it’s best: taking less popular ingredients (rabbit), cooking it simply and cooking it well.
Few ingredients are used here but the quality is high. Take the time to make a Stifado…you’ll be rewarded with a delicious meal that will awaken the olfactory and transport you my aunt’s Greek kitchen, complete with loud Greeks, hungry children and thankful guests.
Rabbit Stifado (ÎšÎ¿Ï…Î½ÎÎ»Î¹ Î£Ï„Î¹Ï†Î¬Î´Î¿)
1 whole rabbit, cut into pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
15-16 whole small onions
6 whole cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
2 heaping Tbsp. of tomato paste
+ 1 cup of water to dillute it in
1 cup dry red wine
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
lots of cracked black pepper
- After cutting up your rabbit into pieces, rinse and pat dry and lightly dredge in seasoned flour. In a large, oven safe Dutch oven, add a few turns of olive oil over medium-high heat and brown-off the pieces of rabbit in batches and reserve in a plate.
- Turn down the heat and add your wine and deglaze and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Add your rabbit back in the pot, followed by the onions, garlic, dilluted tomato paste, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cracked black pepper.
- Bring to a boil and cover and season with salt and pepper. Place in your pre-heated oven (middle rack) and braise for about 90 minutes. Carefully take the stew out of the oven and taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Remove the lid and place back in the oven for another 30 minutes. This step will cook-off the remaining liquid, thicken and brighten your sauce to a warm, red colour.
- Serve each plate with a heap of onions, couple of pieces of rabbit and a spoonful of sauce. Grind some fresh black pepper over top and serve with some good, homemade bread and a dry, Greek red wine.
Note on cutting up rabbit:
The rabbit usually comes headless and the body is in tact with organ meat inside. What I did was dissect it in half (lengthwise, then I lopped off the hind and front legs. What you’re left with is the middle part of the rabbit – the saddle.
You can cut the 2 saddle halves into two, leaving you with four pieces plus the four legs.
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