The White Rabbit

4.94 from 15 votes
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Follow me down into my burrow for a moment, for I am about to show you the wonders of the white rabbit, a wondrous Italian rabbit recipe.

Italian rabbit, braised with mashed potatoes and greens, on a plate.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wha, white rabbit? No, no drugs involved. I have something more rare, more fleeting, in mind: Restraint. Subtlety and restraint are two traits rarely seen in American cooking. We Americans like Big Food, with Big Flavors. Red things, like chili and barbecue sauce and tomatoes. Chipotle for all!

Rabbits don’t like big loud things. They get easily overwhelmed. Slather BBQ sauce on a rabbit and it’s still good, but it becomes less of a rabbit and more of an anonymous white protein.

To shine, rabbit needs to surround itself with ingredients and cooking methods that are more demure. This Italian rabbit recipe does exactly that.

I draw my inspiration for it from one of my “desert island” cookbooks, Paul Bertolli’s Cooking by Hand. Chef Bertolli is a master of braised meats, and he notes that rabbit is one of the few foods that really doesn’t benefit from browning the way say, duck or lamb does. That caramelization, the mighty Maillard Reaction we all know and love, strips rabbit of much that is special to it.

So this recipe skips that step and uses a Chinese technique instead: To prevent your braise from getting a layer of frothy scum on top (a layer caused by coagulating blood and proteins from uncooked meat), you blanch the rabbit briefly, before it goes into the braising pot.

You then surround the bunny with white wine, olive oil, a very quick stock you make from the “off” parts of the rabbit, along with roasted garlic and green olives.

Eating this Italian rabbit will make you taste rabbit in a whole new way. You will realize, perhaps for the first time, that rabbit does not in fact taste like chicken, although it looks like it. Rabbit tastes like rabbit. And this, you will see, is a good thing.

What Sort of Rabbit? 

Regular, store-bought rabbits are perfect here; you can often find them frozen in the supermarket, or, sometimes, at farmer’s markets. I normally use cottontails here, and you’ll need three to serve four people. Snowshoe hares are another great choice, and you could use chicken or squirrel, too, if that’s what you have. 

Don’t use hares or jackrabbits, as they are dark meat. 

Looking for more rabbit recipes? I have another braised rabbit recipe here, a German rabbit soup, as well as a lovely Greek rabbit stew

Italian rabbit, braised with mashed potatoes and greens, on a plate.
4.94 from 15 votes

Coniglio Bianco, Italian Braised Rabbit

You will want at least 2 cottontail rabbits for 3 people, although this will serve four in a pinch. One snowshoe hare feeds two easily, and a domestic rabbit feeds 2 to 3 people. Still, this dish is so good, and it reheats as leftovers so well, that I'd suggest you make more than you think you will need.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours



  • Ribs, neck and belly flaps from the rabbits
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 10 crushed juniper berries (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • Salt


  • 2 to 4 cottontails, snowshoe hares or domestic rabbits
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced root to stalk
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
  • 1 cup quick rabbit stock (see above)
  • 5 to 6 cloves, roasted or preserved garlic
  • 10 to 20 green olives, pitted and cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  • First you must break down your rabbits. (See note below) Save the stray bones in the pelvis, ribs, belly flaps and neck for the stock.
  • To make the stock, Cover all the rabbit pieces -- not just the stray ones -- into a pot and cover them with cool water by about 1/2 inch. Bring this to a boil, then turn off the heat. Skim off any sludgy stuff that floats to the top. Fish out all the good pieces of rabbit -- legs and saddle -- and put them in a bowl in the fridge. Add the remaining stock ingredients, return everything to a bare simmer and cook for 1 hour. Strain and set aside.
  • Now find a heavy, lidded pot such as a Dutch oven and heat the olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the sliced onions and cook until soft and translucent. Do not brown them. Add the white wine, 1 cup of the stock, the rabbit pieces from the fridge, the thyme and the garlic cloves. Bring to a simmer and add salt to taste. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and cook until the meat is tender, about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Finish the dish by adding the green olives and fresh parsley. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and serve.


Here are instructions on how to cut up a rabbit.

Keys to Success

  • No rabbit? You can do this with chicken thighs.
  • I use my preserved garlic for this recipe, but you can also simply roast a head of garlic: Slice the top quart off a head, set it in foil, drizzle olive oil over it, close the foil, then bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes, white polenta or rice. A green thing alongside is always nice, too.


Calories: 534kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 74g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 270mg | Sodium: 286mg | Potassium: 1366mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 195IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 11mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. It was tasty but honestly this was our least favourite of the rabbit recipes on here we’ve tried. I don’t mean to knock it as it was very tender and tasted good. Nothing wrong with a simple recipe that lets the ingredients speak for themselves. I’m not sure I’m sold on this notion of not searing the rabbit. I far preferred the Spanish rabbit and still thought that tasted like rabbit and not universal white meat. Still, this was good.

  2. Hank in the image you posted for this recipe the rabbit looks to have a thin crust of some sort on it. When I cooked this recipe my meat was white, no crust. It tasted delicious so I’m not to fussed, but did I miss something? Thx

  3. We tried this recipe with our first harvest of pastured rabbits grown on our property…wow, so delicious! My wife, teenage boys, and I mowed it down. Very easy recipe to follow, and we’ll be sure to use it regularly!

  4. This is a beautiful dish that went well over polenta. My kids went for seconds while they debated what else rabbit tastes like. They ultimately agreed that it tastes like delicious. Next winter, I think I’ll freeze some cottontails and serve this dish in the spring with a pat of ramp butter and capers.

  5. I have been using this recipe since I started up my rabbitry in 2014. Hank is absolutely right about overwhelming the delicate flavor of rabbit. If processing your own, minizing the time between dispatch and in the cooler is paramount. A fantastic recipe that is also very flexible depending what’s on hand. I’ve made this dish dozens of times, and still never tire of the wonderful blend of flavors. Sure to please!