Rabbit in Riesling with Winter Vegetables & Fresh Herbs

It’s cold where I live. Very cold. Very very cold. But beautiful, too.  And here, where snow graces our mountain town nine and sometimes ten months of the year, you learn to make a lot of soups and stews – warming dishes that nourish the body, satisfy the tastebuds and sustain your will through the long, dark months.  This rabbit recipe – stewed in Riesling with winter root vegetables and fresh herbs is one of them.

On Sunday it snowed, again.  My husband, my love and my reason for learning to love this harsh and weary climate left early with a friend to ride the powder.  My son and I, settled in – opening the blinds so that the soft winter light bathed our living room and we spent our Sunday quietly.  I edited this week’s meal plan; he painted our toenails and the snow continued to fall. We’d crave something mild and nourishing before the day was out, and I pulled a rabbit from the freezer in preparation for this rabbit recipe.

Many of Nourished Kitchen’s readers have been after me for a while to post a rabbit recipe.  Curiously, most who asked were Danish or French where obscure cuts and traditional meats beyond the beloved American trifecta of chicken, beef and pork are more readily enjoyed and, even better, celebrated.  So the time came for that little freezer bunny and we stewed him in a good Slovenian Riesling with carrots, celeriac and turnips stored since the seasonal closing of our farmers market in October.

It’s unfortunate that rabbit is so underloved a meat in the US.  Of course, Americans prefer their meat de-animalized, removed from its primal and living origins, set upon a styrofoam tray and wrapped in plastic.  They become squeamish at the thought of eating rabbit or frog’s legs, and many positively refuse it.  They feign nausea at the presentation of liver or roe or other offal. What a shame.

Rabbit’s a worthy food, though difficult to find and sometimes expensive, much like pasture-raised poultry.  Also much like pasture-raised poultry, sustainability-minded food lovers might consider raising their own rabbits for food along with hens for eggs.  Rabbit is lean and therefore does well in dishes enriched by butter and cream like this rabbit recipe.  What little fat rabbit does contain offers a favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.  It is also rich in the minerals phosphorus and selenium.

Browning the rabbit in frothy and fragrant grass-fed butter with minced shallots, I felt a deep sense of comfort.  There’s joy to be had in the luxurious duty of feeding your family well, of nourishing their bodies with wholesome and nutrient-dense foods.  More yet, there’s relief, too – relief in knowing that the food you tenderly prepare in your kitchen gives life, honoring nature and providing the sustenance your family needs for good health.

I finished the rabbit, tossing the browned pieces of rabbit in a clay baker with julienned root vegetables and whole baby carrots.  It stewed in the oven, drowning in fragrant and fruity Riesling, for hours, then I turned the oven off, bundled up my son and we sledded through town.  There’s a peculiar quiet in town after a good snow.  The snow blankets the roads, the trees, the roofs and sidewalks – insulating the community in a soft white hush.  And in this quiet, if you listen carefully, you might hear the gentle winter coo of the crows or the whooshing flutter of their wings as they glide from treetop to light post and back again.  So, my son and I, warm in down coats but for ruddy and frozen cheeks, sledded through town, visiting the health food store, the heritage museum and counting the icicles that hung from roofs, wires and grills of cars.

crested butte heritage museum

When we finally made it home, the rabbit and winter vegetables was still warm and moist in the oven.  I stirred in the peas, the fresh herbs and cream and returned it to the oven for another half hour.  And when my husband came home, after a long day in the powder, dinner was ready.  I’d serve rabbit with sourdough noodles if it weren’t for a sad renewal in my reactivity toward gluten; instead, we ate it on its own with fresh clementines for dessert.

Rabbit in Riesling

By Jenny Published: January 9, 2011

  • Yield: about 6 servings.
  • Prep: 10 mins (stovetop) mins
  • Cook: 3 1/2 hrs (oven) mins
  • Ready In: 13 mins

A mild dish, gently flavored with fresh mixed herbs, rabbit in Riesling is simple, deeply nourishing and light. Don’t have rabbit? Substitute chicken in this dish for an equally good, if less distinctive alternative.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (preferably from grass-fed cows)
  • 4 shallots (peeled and finely minced)
  • 1 whole rabbit (2 – 3 lbs, 1 – 1 1/2 kg, skinned, cleaned and cut up)
  • 1/2 lb small young carrots (scraped and trimmed of greens)
  • 1/2 lb turnips (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
  • 3/4 lb celeriac (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
  • 2 cups white wine ( preferably Riesling)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen shelled English peas
  • 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, thyme, chervil, mint etc.)
  • 1/4 cup fresh raw cream or crème fraïche

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius).
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over a moderate flame until it foams. Toss in the shallots, frying until they release their perfume and turn translucent. Brown the rabbit pieces in the butter and shallots, about two minutes on each side.
  3. Transfer the rabbit to a clay baker or Dutch oven, then toss carrots, turnips and celeriac into the skillet, frying until fragrant, about five or six minutes. Transfer vegetables to the clay baker or Dutch oven with browned rabbit pieces.
  4. Pour wine into the clay baker or Dutch oven, then cover and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degress Celsius) for two and a half hours.
  5. Remove the lid, stir in the peas. Replace the lid and continue cooking for an additional thirty minutes.
  6. After the rabbit is cooked through, remove it from the oven and stir in chopped herbs and fresh cream.
  7. Serve.

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  1. Mom24boys says

    I just cooked rabbit for Sunday Supper with friends. I was planning chicken & cream gravy over rice but I found 3 rabbits in the freezer that I had forgotten about (my niece raises them but has a hard time finding buyers around here). I have a large crock pot so I used all three rabbits and one good & plump home-raised chicken. All I did was season all the meats (salt, pepper, dry onion, garlic, paprika) and pack it in the c/p with the rabbits on the bottom and the chicken on top so that the chicken juices and fat would drip down over the lean rabbit. I didn’t add any liquid as I find the meats will make a wonderfully rich broth on their own after the initial dry cooking adds a nice roasted flavor. I cooked it overnight and then deboned and roughly shredded the meat in the morning. After church, I thickened the broth with cornstarch and then added a generous pour of cream, returned the meat and heated it up. I served it over Jasmine rice with sides of buttered steamed carrots and green salad. Yum.

    Even our guests’ pickiest son (who likes plain rice cuz it taste like “nothing”) ate 2 heaping plates-full! We were a bit sneaky though: the other mom and I didn’t tell her kids or their dad there was rabbit in the gravy until AFTER everyone was raving about how yummy it all was. Really, they should guess there will be something different, by now. We have already introduced them to venison and elk with good results.

    I think with the next rabbits we get I will make a rabbit fricassee. I haven’t made that in at least 20 years!

    From one Jenny to another

    • Zoe says

      I can’t believe this lovely recipe/story only has ONE comment. Well, now it has two ;D

      In my experience, Americans do NOT like rabbit, and do not like people who cook with rabbit. I learned this sad fact after returning from an extended trip to Australia, where I enjoyed lovely home-grown bunny roasts. Here, we’re only comfortable with the demise of uglier animals :(

      I plan to cook with rabbit again in the future, but don’t run across a lot of rabbit recipes, perhaps due to its unpopularity. This one has been cataloged away for my next trip down under. In the meantime, please don’t let the lack of chatter at the bottom of rabbit-themed dishes discourage you from posting more… some of us are eagerly waiting for more

  2. Julé says

    Yummy! This recipe is excellent and I only tweaked it a bit.
    I browned the rabbit in coconut oil, popped it in the crockpot for4-5 hrs on high, deboned and finished the recipe from there :)
    Using parsley and chives at the end! Delish! Thank you!

  3. says

    So glad I found another rabbit recipe. We actually raise rabbits for meat here on our farm! We have butchered 2 so far and are bound for more in a few months. The meat is SOOO lean, but moist. We grilled the first two. I still have the carcasses to make stew in the crockpot with. I actually found your site from my search for “chicken feet stock”. I just HAD to see if you had any rabbit recipes:) Subscribing now! Love the pics and your rhetoric!

  4. says

    I just made this for dinner- Yummy! Baking a rabbit was on my list of things to do in 2014….Now I am wondering why I hadn’t done it before. How tasty, filling and yet light. Added bonus of feeling quite cosy in my cottage and proud of my rustic cooking prowess.
    Although, you are right about de-animalizing thing about meat. Certain persons at my table (who shall not be named) declare cows adorable, but eat their meat occasionally refused to try this wonderful creation on grounds that -‘rabbits are so cute!’ *sigh* What can one do?
    As for me, I thank you for another delightful recipe, and chance to use my clay baker!

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