Rabbit stifado (κουνελι στιφαδo)

It’s amazing how as soon as the weather turns chilly our cravings for comfort food set in. A longing for salads dissipates with the first frosts of winter.  This is the weather where Ma’s hearty rabbit stifado takes centre stage. A dish of rabbit (or hare) slow cooked in a fresh tomato sauce, gently scented with warming hints of cinnamon and of course, plenty of caramelised onions.

Rabbit used to be a dish that we ate a lot of in Australia, until recent times following the myxomatosis scare. In Greece, and in Greek kitchens around the world including Australia, rabbit continues to be a popular and much loved ingredient.  Nutritionally speaking, rabbit is a great choice with less calories than white chicken meat. So it’s good for the waistline and  it’s also considerably lower in saturated fat than beef and therefore less likely to produce what we call bad cholesterol (LDL ). 

In Australia, I buy rabbit from my local Greek butcher, but you can also find it online – direct from the farm. In Greece, rabbit is often available at the local markets (called “laiki’).

Rabbit is sometimes criticised for being so lean it turns dry on cooking. In the hands of my mother in law, this never happens. Ma’s rabbit is wonderful, very juicy, tender and packed with flavour. After being slow cooked it simply falls off the bone.  Here's how to make it. 

Rabbit stifado (κουνελι στιφαδo) 

Preparation time: 3 hours 
Cooking time: 1 & 1/2 hours
Serves: 6-8

Cooking note: Rabbits are usually sold whole, skinned, gutted, but should have still their kidneys and liver attached. You can joint it yourself or ask your butcher to do it.


1 rabbit or hare (1&1/2 kg)
800g baby onions, peeled and left whole
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbs tomato paste or 2 cups fresh tomato, grated 
1 glass of wine vinegar
1 glass of olive oil
1 glass of white wine
1-2 sticks of cinnamon
2 bay leaves 
2-3 allspice berries 
6 cloves
salt and pepper, to taste 


1. Wash the rabbit and put it into a basin with water and the glass of vinegar. Leave it in a cool place for 3 hours. Drain and then dry the rabbit pieces with absorbent kitchen paper. 

2. Add some olive oil to a frying pan and when hot, fry the rabbit pieces until brown. Remove from the pan and drain the rabbit pieces on absorbent kitchen paper. Using the same frypan, cook the baby onions until caramelised. Remove and place in a large casserole pot. Again using the frypan, cook the chopped onion and cloves of garlic until fragrant. Add to the casserole pot which contains the whole onions. Finally, place the drained rabbit pieces in the casserole pot. 

3.  Pour the wine, oil and tomato into the casserole pot containing the rabbit pieces and onions. Season and add the other aromatics. Bring to the boil and cook for around 20 minutes. Then lower the heat, cover the pot and let the food simmer for a further hour or until the rabbit is tender. Serve hot with potato puree or simply with good country style sourdough bread. 

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Maira Gall