Rustic Rabbit Stew

This traditional, countryside dish is also known as coniglio alla cacciatora (hunter’s rabbit stew). The long, slow cooking, the briny olives and the resulting rich sauce help to create an extremely tasty, falling-off-the-bone stew – it’s a wonderful way of cooking game meat. You could also use free-range chicken instead for a more delicate stew. This recipe is inspired by the way Nonna Lina, the grandma of the author’s husband Marco, would have made it.

NOTE: If there are any leftovers, pick out the bones and simply toss the stew through some pasta like you would a ragù. Even if there is no more meat left, but plenty of that delicious sauce, it still makes a wonderful pasta dish.

A WORD OF WARNING: Be wary of the smaller bones floating around in the stew. If you’re careful enough while chopping the rabbit, you can try to avoid using (or at least chopping through) the rib bones, which are the smallest, sharpest ones. 

Time: 2 hours

Serves: 4


  • 600g rabbit

  • plain flour, for dusting

  • 30–60ml extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, finely chopped

  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 rosemary sprig

  • 5–10 fresh sage leaves

  • 180ml red wine

  • 400g tomato Passat (pureed tomatoes) or tinned chopped tomatoes

  • 1 litre homemade vegetable stock or water

  • 100g good quality green or black olives

  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Prepare the rabbit by rinsing and patting dry with paper towel, removing the kidneys and liver if they are still intact, then chopping into pieces on the bone much like you would a chicken. You could also ask your butcher to do this for you.

Dust the pieces of rabbit with flour and shake off any excess. Pour the olive oil in a deep pan suitable for a stew, and sear the rabbit over medium–high heat until golden. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the onion, carrot and celery over a gentle heat until the onion becomes transparent and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and fresh herbs and continue cooking a few minutes until fragrant. Return the rabbit back to the pot, season with salt and pepper, add the wine and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Add the tomato to the pan with 2 cups of the stock (or water) and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook on the lowest heat until the meat begins to just fall off the bone, about 11/2 hours (note that wild rabbit or other wild game may take a bit longer to become tender than farmed rabbit or chicken). If the sauce is getting too thick or dry, top up as needed with the stock or water (you may or may not need to use all of it).

Check the meat to see if it is tender. When it is ready, you can either remove the meat from the larger bones for easier eating or leave in large pieces.

In the meantime, remove the pits from the olives. Add the pitted olives to the stew right at the end, along with the fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with roasted potatoes.

Recipe taken from Florentine by Emiko Davies

Through her recipes, Emiko Davies takes us on a stroll through the streets of Florence, past bakeries and pastry shops bustling with espresso sippers, colourful markets, busy trattorias, butchers, hole-in-the-wall wine bars and late-night gelaterias. She stays true to the most classic recipes and traditions of the Renaissance city – which inspired her to start her eponymous blog five years ago while living in Florence – revealing an unpretentious and unchanging cuisine that tells the unique story of its city, dish by dish.

You can buy Florentine at

Published by Hardie Grant

Related articles:
Fricassee of rabbit
Chicken stewed in cider and apples
Healthy BBQ chicken shashliks