Rabbit Recipe and Old Hens

To the small rabbit farm today to get a rabbit for tomorrows lunch. Rabbit may not be everyone’s cup of tea but here in Puglia it is a very popular lunch dish. We have about 6 coming for lunch so we buy a 1.5 kilo rabbit and serve it after the pasta course. The guy who owns the farm has them ready prepared and cuts them into pieces for you. He charges about €7 per kilo and unlike a store he is open almost all the time so you can pop in day or night and get one.

This is how we cook it Coniglio al Forno

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Half a litre of white wine

quarter of a litre of Water

2 tbsps of chopped parsley

1.5 kilos of rabbit

1 garlic clove crushed

1 tbspn of capers

4 tomatoes chopped

Pinch of oregano

Place everything in one pan and place in an oven 180 for 60 mins.

We used to use a farmer for our rabbit not realising at first that you could go to the farm direct. I assumed he only supplied butchers, restaurants and hotels in the area.  The farmer was more used to dealing with foreigners and therefore upped the price considerably to them. We paid €12 a kilo with him which made it quite a special dish. He also used to do our ploughing for €160 until we met a guy in the bar who did it for €90 and still clearly felt a little guilty about it and offered to prune a load of trees as well.  During our honeymoon period here as we revelled in the joys of buying direct from a local farmer , conducting the transaction in Italian ( kind of ) and imagining how cheap we were getting everything  the farmer stopped me when walking and from atop his tractor asked if I wanted a gallina. Now to be fair I had no idea what a gallina was but relishing the moment of chatting to an Italian farmer and how great that would sound to friends in England I of course agreed. I rushed home and told my wife .” we have bought a gallina we must pick it up tomorrow at 1 p.m.I understood almost all he said” I exclaimed with pure joy.  I then looked up gallina and it said chicken. Oh boy I said to the wife free range home fed chicken. I thought pollo was chicken said my wife but I was in dream mode . When we get it tomorrow we can use it when the Italian family comes for Sunday lunch.  We picked the bird up the next day and it was big. Well it would be wouldn’t it running around a farm all day none of those manky Tesco chickens. This one grew up on an Italian farm. The price for such a bird seemed great only €9 a kilo. We’ve made a killing I told my wife on the way home. Those Italians are going to think we have settled in so quickly. I told you waving at him as he passed everyday would pay off. My wife didn’t look as impressed as I had hoped.

Into the pot it went , round came the Italian family and after pasta the chicken . We helped ourselves and I waited for the accolades to come. However nobody could talk as everyone was busy chewing and chewing oh and did I mention chewing. What the hell is this asked Pasquale or words to that effect in Italian. Gallina I said and he started to chuckle . Mike you are a testa di rape ( turnip head) gallina  means an old old hen here and whilst good it needs to be cooked for about 10 hours. Now please don’t tell me you paid more than €5 a kilo for it.

Look up chicken in an Italian dictionary and it says pollo and gallina I guess you need to understand the nuances .


About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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One Response to Rabbit Recipe and Old Hens

  1. nettleton500 says:

    Mike, I live in the centre of the plum growing area, in fact Agen my nearest city has AOC status for plums/prunes and I would urge you to try our local recipe for rabbit with mi-cuit prunes.
    Mi-cuit meaning half dried/cooked prunes which are delicious. Forget those horrible things we were fed at public school to keep us regular, these are quite lovely and when added to a rabbit casserole with the usual mirepoix of diced vegetables produce an unctuous gravy.
    When these plums are turned into prunes by gently dried in cavernous barns the air is redolent of jam and sweet fruit.
    They are also magnificent when added to Scots Quaker Oats

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