Authentic Southern Italian rabbit stew recipe

Welcome to my Southern Italian Rabbit Stew recipe article! As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I am excited to share this delicious recipe with you. This stew is what we call “coniglio ischitana” in Italian and is a traditional dish that has been passed down for generations in my family. Whenever I cook it, the aroma alone takes me back to my childhood days, watching my grandmother prepare the rabbit stew.

In the old country, rabbit meat was a staple food as it was easily accessible and versatile for a variety of dishes. My grandmother would often use her hunting skills to catch the rabbits herself for this stew to ensure they were fresh and flavorful. It was a way of life back then.

This rabbit stew is highly valued in the southern Italian culture not only because of its delicious taste but also because it brings families together. At the heart of every Italian meal is the desire to share good food and conversation with loved ones.

My recipe adds a modern twist to Southern Italian rabbit stew by slow-cooking the rabbit pieces with a variety of ingredients that make it all more flavorful, like garlic cloves and red wine vinegar. The stew becomes rich in savory tomato and red wine sauce that complements the tender rabbit meat beautifully.

Whether you’re looking for a way to bring your family together or impress your guests with an alternative protein dish, this is the perfect recipe that’ll make everyone feel at home.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe
Southern Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe

Close your eyes and imagine digging a spoon into a rich, hearty stew on a cold, dreary night. Now picture that stew made with tender, succulent rabbit meat infused with the savory flavors of southern Italian cuisine’s most classic ingredients.

This is exactly what you’ll get with my Southern Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe. But don’t just take my word for it. Let me convince you of why you will love this delicious recipe.

Firstly, the stew is slow-cooked to perfection, allowing the wonderful flavors of parsley, onion, garlic cloves, capers, and green peppercorns to infuse every inch of tender rabbit meat. As you take each forkful of this rich and savory meal, your taste buds will dance with joy as you savor its robust flavor.

Secondly, the addition of saffron gives the dish a unique warm flair that perfectly complements the delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors. The use of red wine vinegar adds a tangy note that balances out the sweetness of the onions and carrots.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this recipe embodies the love and warmth of southern Italy’s traditional cooking methods passed down through generations from my Italian grandmother.

Whether you are someone who has experienced this delightful dish at an old-school trattoria or just someone who loves a good home-cooked meal with classic flavors, this rabbit stew recipe is sure to please.

So why wait? Give my Southern Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe a try – I guarantee it will become one of your go-to recipes for every occasion!

Ingredient List

 Savory rabbit stew with carrots and onions
Savory rabbit stew with carrots and onions

Let’s talk about the ingredients needed for this hearty and delicious Southern Italian Rabbit Stew. To create a beautifully balanced flavor profile, we’ll need the following ingredients:

Rabbit Meat

  • 1 whole rabbit, cut into pieces (approximately 3 pounds)


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Liquid Base

  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of white wine

Additional Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads (soaked in hot water)
  • 1/4 cup of capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup of green peppercorns (crushed lightly)

Olive oil, salt and pepper

You’ll also need some olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper to season the rabbit pieces before browning them in the Dutch oven. These are essential components that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Recipe How-To

 The perfect comfort food on a chilly winter night
The perfect comfort food on a chilly winter night

Now that we have our ingredients at hand, let’s start cooking!


Step 1: For this Southern Italian Rabbit Stew, we will need a Dutch oven. Heat up the Dutch oven on medium heat with olive oil.

Step 2: While waiting for the Dutch oven to warm up, season the rabbit pieces with some salt and pepper. Make sure each piece is well coated. Cut the onion in half and slice thinly, and mince the garlic cloves.

Step 3: Once the pot is warm, add the rabbit pieces to it and cook them until they are golden brown. If necessary, work in batches to make sure each rabbit piece has enough space in the pot. Once cooked, set aside.

The Sauce

Step 4: In the same Dutch oven used earlier, add sliced onion and minced garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant.

Step 5: Add 1 cup of red wine, bring it to a boil and let it reduce for a few minutes until you can barely smell the acidity of the wine.

Step 6: Mix 4 cups of hot water with saffron, mixing it all together until the color turns rich yellow.

Cooking Tips

Before you continue cooking, here are some tips to make sure your Coniglio Ischitana Rabbit Stew comes out perfectly:

  1. To keep your rabbit meat tender: soak them in red wine vinegar for at least 30 minutes before seasoning them.
  2. Try using any other protein you like as a substitute for rabbit meat such as chicken thighs or lamb shanks.
  3. The sauce can be prepared beforehand as there is an extra step involved. This can help save time when preparing this delicious stew recipe rabbit.

The Final Touch

Step 7: Add back in all the rabbit pieces to the Dutch oven, pour in the saffron water and 1/4 cup of white wine. Make sure all of the pieces are well coated with the sauce.

Step 8: Add one tablespoon each of parsley, green peppercorns, and capers. Then, add sliced onion, garlic cloves, red wine vinegar and tomato sauce. Mix thoroughly.

Step 9: Let all of this simmer on low heat for two hours until the rabbit meat is tender and falls off the bone.

Remember: a good stew needs time to release its flavor

Serving and Pairing

This Southern Italian Rabbit Stew pairs perfectly with a warm slice of bread or polenta for a true Italian experience. Serve it hot with some parsley on top to garnish.

Enjoy your delicious recipe rabbit stew handed down from our very own Italian grandmother!

Substitutions and Variations

 A hearty and filling meal that will satisfy your hunger cravings
A hearty and filling meal that will satisfy your hunger cravings

When it comes to making this delicious Southern Italian rabbit stew, there are a few substitutions and variations that you can make to create a unique twist on this classic dish.

Firstly, if you can’t find rabbit meat, you can substitute it with chicken thighs. This will give the stew a slightly different flavor and texture but will still be just as delicious.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, you can also substitute the meat with mushrooms or tofu. The mushrooms will add a rich, earthy flavor to the stew, while tofu will provide a protein-rich alternative.

For those who don’t drink alcohol, you can replace the red and white wine in the recipe with chicken or vegetable broth. This will still give the stew a rich and savory flavor without the alcohol.

Finally, for those who prefer a spicier kick to their dishes, you can add some red pepper flakes or sliced jalapenos to the stew. This will give it an extra depth of flavor that pairs well with the traditional Southern Italian spices found in this recipe.

Overall, these substitutions and variations are just a few examples of how you can tailor this classic Southern Italian rabbit stew recipe to fit your personal taste preferences. Experimenting with different ingredients will allow you to craft your own unique twist on this beloved dish.

Serving and Pairing

 A traditional Southern Italian dish that will transport your taste buds to Italy
A traditional Southern Italian dish that will transport your taste buds to Italy

When it comes to serving Southern Italian Rabbit Stew, I recommend pairing it with a full-bodied red wine such as Chianti or Nero d’Avola to bring out the rich flavors of the dish. For a non-alcoholic option, try serving it with chilled sweet tea, a Southern classic.

This stew is hearty and filling on its own, but I like to serve it over polenta or mashed potatoes to soak up all the delicious juices. You can also add some crusty bread for sopping up the fragrant broth.

For a complete meal, serve your rabbit stew alongside a simple green salad dressed in a tangy red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. Sprinkle with fresh parsley for added color and freshness.

If you have any leftovers, don’t worry! This stew gets better with time and can be reheated easily for another meal. Enjoy it again as is or repurpose it into a filling pasta sauce.

In Southern Italy, this rabbit casserole is often served at large family gatherings and celebrations, accompanied by plenty of laughs, lively conversation and cheer. Invite your loved ones over and share in the warmth and comfort that this beloved Italian stew recipe provides.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Slow-cooked rabbit that melts in your mouth
Slow-cooked rabbit that melts in your mouth

One of the great benefits of this Southern Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and stored for later. This stew reheats beautifully, making it ideal for meal prep or leftovers.

To make this stew ahead of time, simply let it cool down to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.

When reheating, take out the frozen stew from the freezer and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours. Transfer it into a large pot and add a splash of hot water if required. Reheat over low heat until hot throughout.

If you’re meal prepping, you can also store all cooked components separately and assemble them when you’re ready to eat. For instance, cook your polenta beforehand and store in individual containers. You can also separately store the rabbit meat, sauce, vegetables, and herbs ahead of time.

Remember to never reheat rabbit meat more than once as repeated heating and cooling may dry out the texture.

Whether you choose to make this delicious Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe ahead of time or enjoy it fresh off the pot with your loved ones, there’s no doubt that this stew is an excellent recipe worth trying!

Tips for Perfect Results

 A rustic and homely stew that will warm your soul
A rustic and homely stew that will warm your soul

To make the perfect Southern Italian Rabbit Stew, it’s important to pay attention to the details. Here are some tips that I’ve learned from my Nonna Amalia and my experience in creating this recipe:

1. Tenderize the rabbit meat: Rabbit meat can be tough, so it’s important to tenderize it before cooking. One way to do this is to soak the rabbit pieces in a mixture of hot water and red wine vinegar for at least 30 minutes. Another way is to marinate the rabbit overnight in the refrigerator with the spices and seasonings of your choice.

2. Use a Dutch oven: A heavy, cast-iron Dutch oven is ideal for cooking rabbit stew because it distributes heat evenly and retains heat well. This will help ensure that your stew cooks evenly and stays warm throughout your meal.

3. Season well: Rabbit meat has a subtle flavor that can benefit from bold spices and herbs. Don’t be shy with the salt, pepper, saffron, parsley, capers, and green peppercorns – they will bring out the full flavor of your stew.

4. Add white wine: Adding white wine to your stew can give it a bright and acidic taste which helps to balance out the richness of the sauce.

5. Cut vegetables correctly: When cutting vegetables like onions and garlic cloves, it is important to cut them evenly so they cook uniformly throughout your stew.

6. Brown first, then slow-cook: Browning the rabbit pieces before adding them to the stew casserole will add flavor depth to each piece of meat which will elevate the complexity of the dish as a whole.

7. Don’t overcrowd: Overcrowding your stew casserole could lead to an unevenly cooked dish because there won’t be enough room for everything to cook at once. Be sure your pan appropriately captures all ingredients without overfilling.

8. Serve with polenta or bread: Southern Italian Rabbit Stew goes well with polenta, bread, or even a ​bowl of pasta. Using these complementary side dishes is always a good idea to add another touch of comforting flavors to your meal.

By following these tips for perfect results, you will be able to create a delicious Southern Italian Rabbit stew that will turn out better than any rabbit soup recipe Stanley Tucci has ever made.


Before we wrap up this article, let’s tackle some of the frequently asked questions about Southern Italian Rabbit Stew. With any recipe, it’s essential to understand some common issues that may arise during the cooking process. In this section, I will cover everything from how to store leftovers to substitutions you can make if you don’t have specific ingredients on hand. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Why do you soak rabbit before cooking?

For those opting to use wild cottontails, it would be beneficial to make a brine to soak the rabbits before frying to enhance the meat’s flavor and moisture. A basic brine composed of 1/4 cup of kosher salt and 4 cups of water should suffice, as the rabbit will be seasoned further later on. Submerging the bunny in the brine for approximately 8 hours will result in a juicy and succulent meat texture.

How is rabbit best cooked?

Rabbit meat can be cooked using different methods that help retain its juicy texture. Its distinct taste makes it a well-liked ingredient in terrines, rillettes or pâtés, and rabbit ragu can transform into a delicious pasta sauce. Some of the ways it can be prepared include roasting, baking in a pie, or braising in a stew or casserole.

How do you prepare a rabbit for stew?

To begin preparing the hearty Rabbit Stew, start by coating the tender rabbit pieces with a generous amount of flour, around 1/2 cup should suffice. Then, grab a Dutch oven and melt a good amount of butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and hot, go ahead and brown the rabbit pieces on all sides until they’re browned to your liking.

Add in some fresh celery, chopped onions, a pinch of seasoned salt, and some salt and pepper to taste. Toss in a bay leaf and pour in either water or broth, and to really add some richness to the stew, a solid splash of red wine. Bring everything to a boil, and let the flavors meld together as the stew simmers away.

What is the best way to tenderize rabbit meat?

If you’re looking to make rabbits and squirrels tender and delectable, braising or stewing them can do the trick. Give your servings of meat a light coating of flour seasoned with your favorite spices before sautéing them in a skillet or Dutch oven. Afterwards, put them on simmer with herbs, spices or aromatic vegetables until it reaches a level of tenderness that you can effortlessly pierce through it with a fork.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Southern Italian Rabbit Stew recipe is a true gem in the world of hearty and flavorful stews. With its roots tracing back to the old country and the loving hands of Italian grandmothers hunting for rabbit in the countryside, it’s a recipe that brings comfort and delight to any table.

With its unique blend of spices, saffron, capers, green peppercorns, and a touch of red wine vinegar, this stew packs a punch of flavor that will leave your taste buds begging for more. And with the use of both rabbit meat and chicken thighs, you’ll experience a perfect balance of tender and succulent texture.

Whether you’re looking to warm up during cold winter days or enjoy an exquisite meal with friends and family on special occasions or holidays, this recipe will be sure to exceed your expectations every time. So go ahead, give it a try! I guarantee you won’t regret it.

As Stanley Tucci once said, “The rabbit cacciatore recipe is one of my absolute favorites”, and I couldn’t agree more. This is much more than just a rabbit stew; it’s a dish that carries with it the traditions and love of Italian cuisine.

To make this stew even more special, pair it with some polenta or freshly baked bread to soak up all the delicious flavors. Whether you cook it in a Dutch oven or in a slow cooker Ischia style, this Southern Italian Rabbit Stew will be sure to impress and inspire everyone who tastes it.

So what are you waiting for? Gather your ingredients, get your Dutch oven ready, brace yourself for some mouth-watering aromas and dive into this delicious recipe! Your taste buds (and those of your guests) will thank you!

Southern Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe

Southern Italian Rabbit Stew Recipe Recipe

This is a delicious recipe for rabbit stew that was handed down to me from my Italian grandmother. They use to hunt rabbit in the old country and loved to make this stew. I hope you will try it. The following is a short video showing how to make the recipe. Read more: <a href=""></a>
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Calories 605.1 kcal


  • 2 cottontail rabbits or 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons capers or 4 tablespoons green peppercorns, which ever you prefer
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper


  • 1. Soak the rabbit in salted water for 24 hours in the refrigerator. This is not necessary for chicken.
  • 2. Get the vegetable oil hot over medium-high heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven.
  • 3. Pat the rabbit or chicken pieces dry and brown well in the pot.
  • 4. Meanwhile, chop half the capers or green peppercorns.
  • 5. Get your tap water as hot as it will go and fill a 2 cup measure. Crush the saffron in your palm and sprinkle it into the hot water.
  • 6. Once the meat is all browned, remove it to a plate. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until browned.
  • 7. Add everything into the pot. Place the rabbit or chicken pieces into the liquid. If the liquid does not come at least halfway up the sides of the hare pieces.
  • 8. Cover tightly and place wild rabbit in 300 degree oven for 2.5 hours. Domestic rabbit and chicken should only cook for 1.5 hours. Check the Rabbit after 2 1/2 hours; it should be finished.
  • 9. Serve with wild rice, a green salad and a good Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Read more: <a href=""></a>.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 291gCalories: 605.1kcalCarbohydrates: 4.5gProtein: 73.5gFat: 30.4gSaturated Fat: 7.4gCholesterol: 205mgSodium: 381.2mgFiber: 0.9gSugar: 1.3g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Easy, European, High In..., High Protein, Meat, Very Low Carbs, Weeknight
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