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Classic Greek Rabbit Stew

Photo by Hank Shaw

This is kouneli stifado, the classic Greek rabbit stew. I’ve made stifado many times, and I always seem to like it better with the skinny cottontails here in California, although it is very good with domestic rabbits. You could use jackrabbit or snowshoe hare, too, although you’d add another 30-45 minutes on the cooking time. Keys here are well browning the rabbit, including sweet wine (Mavrodaphne if you can find it), as well as allspice and cinnamon.

Serves 4-6

  • 2-3 cottontail rabbits or 1-2 domestic rabbits or hares
  • Kosher salt
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes, or Yukon Gold potatoes chopped into large chunks
  • 10-12 allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 large tomatoes, grated, or 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup sweet red wine — NOT port (it’s too strong)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Joint the rabbits and cut into serving pieces. Be sure to include little bits, like the belly flaps, the front legs, the kidneys and such; they become yummy surprises in the finished stew.
  2. Salt the rabbit pieces well and set aside.
  3. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onions for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and garlic and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Do not let the garlic burn!
  4. Turn the contents of the frying pan into a set pot, a brazier (what I use), or a Dutch oven, then arrange the bay leaves, allspice berries and cinnamon stick over them.
  5. Dredge the rabbit in flour and brown well in the frying pan over medium-high heat — do not rush this step or you will be sorry. You will need to add the other 1/4 cup olive oil here.
  6. As each piece gets nice and browned, arrange atop the onions and potatoes in the pot.
  7. When the rabbit is all browned, add the wine, tomato paste and grated tomatoes — cut tomatoes in half and run them through your coarsest grater to leave the skins out of your pot — as well as the juice of a lemon. Cook this down over high heat for 3-4 minutes, then pour over everything in the pot.
  8. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly for 45 minutes, then check. It may need another 15 minutes or so. You want the rabbit to be just about falling off the bone.
  9. Serve with crusty bread and top with black pepper and a green thing of your choice. I’d use parsley. 

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2 responses to “Classic Greek Rabbit Stew”

  1. Peter

    Hank, I’m in a stifado mood and I’ll look for a once hopping bunny this weekend.

    The recipe sounds good save for the onions…there should be way more than just 2 onions.

    Stay tuned…stifado comin’ up…and your rendition looks fab.

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