Braised Rabbit with Cracked Olives


Don't be afraid to dabble in rabbit, a lean, flavorful meat, from Melissa Kelly, chef and owner of Primo Restaurant in Rockland, Maine.


  • 2 three- to four-pound rabbits

  • 8 to 12 thin slices pancetta

  • Coarse salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • All-purpose flour, for dredging

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

  • 2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped

  • 10 sliced medium cloves garlic

  • ½ cup tomato puree

  • 2 cups dry white wine

  • 4 cups Homemade Rabbit Stock Homemade Rabbit Stock

  • 2 twenty-eight-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed

  • 2 cup cracked pitted green olives in brine (preferably Picholine)

  • 4 sprigs rosemary

  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

  • Handcut Linguine

  • 2 dried bay leaves


  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place rabbit back down on cutting board. Remove any fat from the inside of the rabbit. Cut along the tailbone, keeping the knife against the bone, and detach the thigh. Repeat to cut off the second thigh, starting at the end of the tailbone. Remove liver and kidneys; discard, or save for another use. Cut through the rabbit, below the shoulder blade, to remove the foreleg. Repeat to remove the other foreleg. Turn rabbit over, and cutting along the rib bones on each side, remove loins. Repeat with remaining rabbit. Reserve bones for stock. Wrap loins from top to bottom with pancetta. Set loins aside.

  2. Season shoulders and legs with salt and pepper and coat lightly with flour. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place legs and shoulders in pan and cook until brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from Dutch oven and set aside.

  3. Add butter, onion, celery, and carrot, and cook stirring until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato puree and cook 3 minutes. Pour in wine and crushed tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, 12 to 14 minutes.

  4. Add stock, browned rabbit, 1 cup olives with their brine, rosemary sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Transfer to oven and cook until fork tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove meat from sauce; set aside. Strain sauce through a medium sieve, discarding solids. Return sauce to Dutch oven. Heat sauce on stove until reduced to desired consistency, skimming fat if necessary. Remove meat from reserved shoulders, and discard bones. Return legs and shoulder meat to sauce. Chop remaining 1 cup olives and stir into sauce with chopped rosemary. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  5. While the sauce is reducing, heat a medium skillet over high heat, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and heat until smoking. Add rabbit loins, and cook until brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer loins to cutting board, and allow to rest for 1 minute before thinly slicing. Add linguine to boiling water, and cook until tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a serving platter. Top with sauce, and surround with slices of loin. Serve immediately.

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