Rabbit Stifado (Κουνέλι-Στιφάδο)

Dec 19th, 2008 | By | 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.

Exit wild hare and enter rabbit. Rabbit is far milder in flavour and one would be hard pressed to taste-test if they were eating chicken or rabbit.

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 (Κουνέλι Στιφάδο)
(for 4)

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

Pre-heated 350F oven

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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63 Comments to “Rabbit Stifado (Κουνέλι-Στιφάδο)”

  1. Jan says:

    Oh no! You cooked a wabbit LOL
    I must say your stifado looks
    dee-lish!
    I’ve made beef stifado before and that was really yummy.

  2. Judy@nofearentertaining says:

    Hmmm. My friend just dropped off her bunny for us to watch for the holidays. Do you thin she’d notice?

    Looks really good Peter. I love the simplicity of this!

  3. fruttodellapassione says:

    My youngest sister won’t eat rabbit because someone (ehm, won’t say who) told her she was eating Thumper once when she was about 8. That’s ok because then there is more for ME!!! Love, love, love the look of this dish!

  4. Joan Nova says:

    Great post! I’m still laughing about Sammy!! Call me insensitive but don’t call me late for Rabbit Stifado.

  5. Maryann says:

    I want to see a sitcom about “Sam, the fornicating bunny”!

  6. Nina Timm says:

    My kids will be horrified, but I will eat it if I did not raise it..fair?? The stew looks delicious with all those onions….mmmmm!!

  7. Julia says:

    mmm. Rabbit! I’m the kind of person that will see a rabbit scamper in the woods and think, “delicious” instead of “cute.” And speaking of delicious… your picture and recipe certainly look that!

  8. glamah16 says:

    Just like chicken. Kidding. Looks wonderful. CS’ mother makes a mean hare dish. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my B King. Behave.

  9. Elle says:

    I’ve never had rabbit before, but I have to say–this looks incredible!

  10. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That stew really makes me drool! I love rabbit and onions…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  11. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That stew really makes me drool! I love rabbit and onions…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  12. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That stew really makes me drool! I love rabbit and onions…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  13. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That stew really makes me drool! I love rabbit and onions…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  14. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That stew really makes me drool! I love rabbit and onions…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  15. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That stew really makes me drool! I love rabbit and onions…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  16. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    That stew really makes me drool! I love rabbit and onions…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  17. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    Make no apologies, Peter. I’ll bet you have a lot of rabbit-loving company, including me!

    Your Stifado looks very hearty and delicious. The recipe is very similar to the one my family uses, except for the cinnamon. We can’t find rabbit here very often, so it is a real treat for us.

  18. kat says:

    I'm seeing rabbit on menus around here more & more. I'd love to try this.

  19. Elra says:

    I always love rabbit, but my husband thinks that it is too cute to eat.
    My son on the other hand will only eat wild hare, not the farmed rabbit. Well, it’s pretty hard to find wild hare in the grocery store, so you have to hunt them. And of course nobody hunt in my family, so the only time to eat this wild hare is at the restaurant.

    As laways, many of your dishes looks absolutely mouth watering, and oh, I love that cinnamon in it too.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  20. Mary says:

    Peter, I have a case of adult giggles. I loved this post. Bob came back from a quick trip to Portland all excited because he had a surprise for me. Other gals get jewels and furs and the odd auto here and there. My surprise was a rabbit! A rabbit! Your recipe will be put to use really soon.

  21. The Short (dis)Order Cook says:

    It’s funny that you talk about the cuteness of bunnies. I have a coworker that won’t eat “anything that’s cute” so she won’t eat lamb. I doubt you would get her near a bunny.

    I once ate rabbit not knowing what it was, so I had no “cute animal bias”. I’m afraid I didn’t like the flavor very much. I’ve eaten many types of feathered friends, and I don’t have a problem with meats some people consider gamey (I love lamb) but rabbit doesn’t do it for me. I don’t take issue wiht those who do like it though. I think your stew is very interesting.

  22. Peter G says:

    A real classic Peter! And the aromas are mesmerising to say the least…great job!

  23. Stacey Snacks says:

    I love rabbit stew…..but please P, I don’t want to think about that cute little “fornicating” bunny!
    You are too much!

  24. Maria says:

    I don’t think I could eat a rabbit, but great post!!

  25. Marjie says:

    I had a lady who raised rabbits for food a while back. Some of her kids wouldn’t eat them either, because they were cute, so she said it was chicken, and they loved it. Another great offering, Peter!

  26. Paula says:

    Franken-chicken??? Ha! I’m still guffawing over that! I’ve not had rabbit, but I’d surely have a huge bowl of rabbit stifado!

  27. Christina says:

    Dexter, rofls!

    Someone should come out with a killer bunny movie, then people would have no qualms about eating them. But really, I’ve wanted to try rabbit stew after reading it in Lord of the Rings!

  28. Mary says:

    I love how funny your observations are! The fornicating bunny is probably a pretty apt description! And I have no problem eating cute things. I even bought some kid’s pet lamb and am eating it.

    I have never had bunny, but it sure looks delicious!

  29. Giff says:

    “not some Franken-chicken that you bought cut up into pieces, wrapped in plastic by Dexter”

    priceless Peter :)

    I haven’t had rabbit in some time. This looks like a great treatment.

  30. Maria says:

    That looks really good Peter, and it would be a perfect dish to eat in this New York snow storm.

  31. ΕΛΕΝΑ says:

    That’s an excellent dish Peter, I make it quite often cause it’s the favourite of my husband.
    Yours looks perfect!!

  32. the elephant in the room says:

    Hi Peter,

    How do you cut up a rabbit? I think I can get a whole rabbit from an Asian supermarket here, but wouldn’t know how to separate them into pieces. Any step-by-step pictures? :)

    Thanks much.

  33. Kalyn says:

    I grew up eating rabbits that we raised in the back yard. Occasionally there was a trauma when one of the kids got attached to a certain rabbit, only to discover we had eaten him/her. But it was delicious, and I’d certainly cook it now if I had some. Your dish looks wonderful.

  34. maria says:

    Like so many things, the smell of stifado reminds me of my Yia Yia’s kitchen.

    And whether or not I eat the rabbit, I sneak an onion or two and some sauce to mop with bread!

    Mmm…

  35. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    Haha. I had to chuckle at this post. My sister-in-law’s pet rabbit is named Sammy. :)

    Lots of onions but this dish looks great. I bet it’d look really pretty with pearl onions.

  36. Pam says:

    I would probably eat rabbit if I coud find it, but I do think that they are awfully cute!

  37. Hunter Angler Gardener Cook says:

    Dude, it’s just a rabbit…but I bet your audience is a little less, well, accustomed to unusual meat items than mine is…

    As for the stifado, when I made my stifado recipe, Sam mentioned that I could use more onions. Seeing how many you used, I can see you Greeks aren’t kidding! I will drop another one in the pot next time I make it.

    Cottontails are more flavorful than domestic rabbits, and hares are best of all — do you know any hunter friends up there?

  38. Jude says:

    I keep going back and forth between rabbit is cute and good eats. That’s just wrong to me. :)

  39. Helene says:

    I have a sister that loves rabbit so she would eat this in no time.

  40. Bellini Valli says:

    I have only ever tried rabbit the German way. We had rabbits as kids and left on an extended holiday. We left the rabbits in the care of our Portuguese neighbours. You know the outcome.

  41. Gloria says:

    Look really tasty peter, really nice, Gloria

  42. Antonia says:

    No need for apologies – I just love rabbit personally. I quite often order it when I’m out, though oddly enough I don’t think I’ve ever cooked it myself. This looks just the way to do it, especially with all those gorgeous onions.

  43. jodimop says:

    I agree Peter, kouneli is a lovely meat, cute or no cute! I used to have a problem with the cuteness, but soon overcame it. After all, piglets are cute too but they taste divine…

  44. Lore says:

    Ahaaa! So this was your plan for the rabbit Judy’s babysitting!
    I take it was fingerlicking.
    looks absolutely scrumptious and would make a great festive dish.

  45. We Are Never Full says:

    WELL SAID PETER! I don’t know what it is about the American palate and rabbit but it’s an animal just like chicken, cow, pig that is eaten virtually everywhere else in the world. for some reason, here, people get all up in arms about it and i just don’t get it. they are freaking cute, yes, and, yes, people have them for pets but they are also wild animals as well. they are eaten EVERYWHERE!

    the rabbit dishes we’ve had on our blog get the most negative comments and i don’t get it. i remember our rabbit in tarragon cream was picked up by a independent online newspaper that’s pretty big in seattle. that dish was “recipe of the day”. the comments on their site (mostly by hippie vegans and unaware carnivores) were insulting. like ridiculous. just because it was fucking rabbit. if i titled it chicken i wondered how much backlash it would’ve received.

    sorry for the rant, but i was super pleased to notice your disclaimer in the post. rabbit may not be everyones cup of tea but, please, don’t preach you thoughts on it b/c they are cute and cuddly. look at how cute friggin pigs are when they are babies. just try it, it’s delicious!!

    thanks for listening to my rant… whoa, i feel so much better now.

  46. Helen says:

    I absolutely love rabbit! yeah they are cute but they are also abundant and damn tasty too! Your dish looks lovely and hearty too :)

  47. Helen says:

    p.s – I’m also loving the whole onions :)

  48. Jo says:

    This looks really good! I’ve never had rabbit… not sure why. I think I might have to look into trying this recipe after the holidays! Thanks Peter!

  49. Grace says:

    yeah, if we only ate the ugly animals, we’d be feasting on possums and sloths all the time. no thanks. :)

  50. Mediterranean kiwi says:

    rabbit is one of my favorite meats, and it really makes no difference if it’s cute or not…

  51. Leslie says:

    Nope, never eaten a bunny..But I would totally give it a try!

  52. giz says:

    I’ve tried to convince myself over and over again to try rabbit – I’ve even used the same logic you use – mental block – I just can’t do it.

  53. Kevin says:

    That looks tasty! I have been wanting to try rabbit for an while.

  54. norecipes says:

    I’ve only had rabbit once, but now I might have to go look for a supplier! This looks delicious.

  55. Ivy says:

    he,he,he, I was cursed by someone for posting about cooking baby goat organs… rabbit is just another animal in the food chain and anyway in France/Switzerland all restaurants served rabbit and deer. Stifado is delicious.

  56. Jeanne says:

    I don’t really get the fuss about “oooh you ate Thumper” – but knowing the vocal cazies out there I understand why you started with a highly amusing disclaimer!! I mean, nobody is suggesting wrenching a pet rabbit out of a child’s arms and into a cooking pot (Fatal Attraction aside)! The fact that some people keep rabbits as pets does not mean that you should never breed a rabbit to eat – it’s not inherently more cruel than raising any other animal to eat. And if cuteness were the criterion for not eating things, we’d be looking at slimpickings indeed!!

    That said, I used to have a mental block abotu eating rabbit, but I outgrew it. Now I think – “bunny? YUM!” Wild hare, as you say, is a different kettle of fish (mixed metaphor alert!), and I can imagine people not eating it purely because it can be very gamey. But then you have to balance that against the fact that a wild hare had a natural, free existence up until its death, not the confinement of a commercial farm.

  57. Choosy Beggar TIna says:

    Ha! Sammy the fornicating bunny indeed…..I’ve never cooked OR eaten rabbit, but lately they’ve been hopping their way into the supermarket display racks, which means that I’m bound to buy it sooner or later!!

  58. […] Cooler weather demands comfort food.  And lots of red wine!  That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it!  Seriously though, that’s probably the best part about winter.  The stews, braises and casseroles.  This time around I wanted to attempt that classic Greek dish called “stifado”.  It’s a one pot aromatic stew utilising baby onions, red wine vinegar and cinnamon to a name a few ingredients.  This dish traditionally uses wild hare (usually hunted by and army of Greek uncles!) or rabbit.  My friend Peter a.k.a. “Kalofagas” made a stifado using rabbit and you can read his very informative and entertaining post here. […]

  59. […] Cooler weather demands comfort food.  And lots of red wine!  That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it!  Seriously though, that’s probably the best part about winter.  The stews, braises and casseroles.  This time around I wanted to attempt that classic Greek dish called “stifado“.  It’s a one pot aromatic stew utilising baby onions, red wine vinegar and cinnamon to a name a few ingredients.  This dish traditionally uses wild hare (usually hunted by and army of Greek uncles!) or rabbit.  My friend Peter a.k.a. “Kalofagas” made a stifado using rabbit and you can read his very informative and entertaining post here. […]

  60. […] for their unique flavors. The Sasquatch is coming for dinner tonight and I’m making Rabbit Stifado as per my friend Peter’s (Kalofagas) recipe. I promise to stick to it to the letter! Possibly […]

  61. […] I soon found out they’d  be used for sustenance. The most popular Greek dish with rabbit is Stifado…a stew of rabbit, wine, vinegar, spices and lots of onions. Tomatoes are the base of the […]

  62. WHOO HOO!! Rabbit strikes again, and with such a recipe!

    A must-try-soon–will be passing it on to all the rabbit folks I know. Thank you! Thank you!!

    (by the way…most rabbits sold in stores are ‘fryer’ rabbits–8-12 weeks of age and very tender. To get older rabbits, request ‘roaster’ or ‘stewer’ class animals. :))

  63. Rosie says:

    YAY.

    I have spent a lot of time in Greece and rabbit stifado is one of my favorite dishes. I brought back some store bought whole stifado spice bags the last time I was there (5 years ago) and it’s been sitting around since.

    Today I got a rabbit from a local farm. I am marinating that sucker in some sherry vinegar and the whole bagful of stifado spices. I will then follow your directions. Not sure right now whether I will serve it with roasted ‘taters or rice, but either way, it will be EPIC.

    Thanks for your recipe, and for this wonderful testament to fresh and sustainable eating.

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