This one-pot meal is comfort food at its finest, meant to be shared with family and friends after a successful rabbit hunt
A lot of folks out there cut their teeth small game hunting; myself included. I was fortunate enough that my father was an avid small game hunter. We would pound the brush with my old man’s cousin and a mutual friend. We always had a beagle or two, as did the other members of our hunting party. There were a couple seasons where we had 7 dogs down. Even before the legal age of 12 for small game hunting in New York, I would tag along with my old man and his posse at a local beagle club. This was mostly a place to let the dogs run safely in the off season and for the guys to have a couple beers and reminisce. After deer season is when we really hammered the rabbit woods, rarely missing a weekend. We’d usually get a few bunnies every hunt. The day would end with the dogs snoozing in the parking lot of the VFW or American legion, myself at the bar with a Pepsi and a burger, and the old man and his crew with some grub and a couple brews. These are some of my most cherished years of my youth.
Now at 33 years old and with a beagle of my own, going out and chasing down rabbits still has a place near to my heart. There’s nothing like the sound of a beagle howling on a hot track. The recipe I’ve put out here is a remake of what my grandmother would call “rabbiaté”. A one pot comfort dish that I would hypnotically watch my grandmother, and later my mother, make. To me this embodies everything in the hunt to eat lifestyle, and what I feel a dwindling past time of rabbit hunting with hounds. Many times, every ingredient in this recipe was reaped and sowed from my mother’s garden. Hope you enjoy.
One Pot RabbitSamuel Valvo
- 2 whole rabbits
- 1 lb carrots
- 1 lb parsnips
- 1 lb baby potatoes
- 1 red onion ½ cup roughly chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley loosely chopped
- 4 tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 gallon water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- Although not necessary, rabbit meat does greatly benefit from a 24 hour soak in a simple brine. Heat the brine until all particles are dissolved. Let cool, cover completely in the refrigerator up to 24 hours. Rabbit meat has virtually no fat on it, and the brine does help to retain moisture when cooking.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the butter in a pan and brown the rabbit on all sides. I choose to leave the rabbit whole here, and then quarter them and serve after cooked. I also prefer a deep cast iron skillet, that I inherited from my grandmother. (I have an affinity for collecting Griswold cast iron cookware!)
- Place browned rabbit in a roasting dish large enough to not be overly crowded when all the other ingredients are added. Salt and pepper as desired.
- In the same pan, turn to low heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add onions; cook until nearly translucent. Add about ¾ cup of water to the pan and scrape all the browned bits from the bottom. Add onions and liquid to roasting dish.
- Layer carrots, parsnips, and potatoes in the roasting dish, making sure that all these root vegetables are roughly cut to the same size.
- Add fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper over everything so that it is evenly distributed. I drizzle a little olive oil over everything at this point.
- Cover, place roasting pan in preheated 300-degree oven for 2 ½ – 3 hours, or until the rabbit is tender and nearly falling away from the bone.