Rabbit Braised with Wine, Olives and Sage

From Biba’s Italy: Favorite Recipes from the Splendid Cities (Artisan, 2006)

The Tuscan way of preparing delicious home-cooked meals is straightforward and uncomplicated, and proves that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen. This typical family fare can be made with rabbit, pheasant, or chicken, and is a staple of Florence’s trattorie, where the rabbit is generally served with slices of fried or grilled polenta.

Serves 4

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 (3-pound) rabbits, cut into serving pieces, washed and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, minced (about 1 to 1-1/2 cups)
2 cups dry white wine
10 to 12 black Gaeta or Nicoise olives, pitted and quartered
10 fresh sage leaves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet or casserole over high heat. Flour the rabbit pieces lightly. When the oil is very hot, add the rabbit to the skillet without crowding. (The rabbit can be browned in 2 batches.) Season with salt and pepper and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Discard the oil and place the skillet back over medium heat. Add the remaining oil. When it is hot but not yet smoking, add the onion. Cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to pick up the browned bits, until the onion is lightly golden and soft, 6 to 7 minutes. .
  3. Return the rabbit to the pan, raise the heat to high, and add the wine. As soon as the wine begins to bubble, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring from time to time and turning the rabbit once, until the wine is almost all evaporated and the rabbit is tender when pierced with a fork, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the rabbit to a platter, cover loosely with foil, and keep warm in a low oven..
  4. Add the olives, sage, and garlic to the pan, and stir over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and stir quickly until the pan juices have thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Tase and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the pan juices over the rabbit and serve hot.