A Walk in Nizza

Exploring history, food, and culture between the Belbo river and the vineyard hills of Monferrato

Good Food: Coniglio al Sivé (Braised Rabbit)


The staple of village celebrations in Castelnuovo Belbo, the village where I live, is rabbit, often served with polenta. A classic peasant’s dish, and particularly welcome in autumn, rabbit comes with a history of small homesteading or all-out poaching. Today you can buy rabbits at the butcher’s, but the old people say it does not taste as good as a poached rabbit.

coniglio al sivé

One of the classic recipes for rabbit (poached or otherwise) is the Coniglio al Sivé, a braised rabbit dish that requires some preparation (about two days) and which goes more or less like this:

You will need…

1 whole rabbit, its liver included
1 small glass of Marsala
250 ml of stock
50 grams of lard or bacon
50 grams of butter
red hot peppers (powder)

… and for the marinade…

1 bottle of Dolcetto wine
1 pepper
1 celery
1 onion
1 carrot
1 clove of garlic
1 leaf of laurel
3-4 juniper berries
3-4 cloves
1/2 stick of cinnamon
pepper in grains

And then you do like this…

Clean up the rabbit, cut it in pieces.
Prepare the marinade by cleaning and chopping up the pepper, celery, carrot, and garlic, then by adding the wine and the spices.
Put the rabbit in the marinade (make sure it’s completely submerged) and let it rest for about two days in the refrigerator.

When the two days are over…

In a pan, heat up the butter and the lard.
Add the rabbit and cook it on a lively flame, turning it often to achieve a uniform cooking. When the rabbit gets a nice uniform tan, add the stock and keep cooking on a slower fire.
Then, add the marinade.

When the rabbit is perfectly cooked (it might take about one hour on a slow flame), put it on a plate.
Filter the cooking residue and pass it through a vegetable mill (or use a mixer) adding the rabbit liver. Put the resulting sauce back on the stove, add the marsala and the red hot pepper powder and cook for a few minutes.
Pour over the rabbit and serve.

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