Photo by staff writer Victoria Bishop-Smith.
Maltese rabbit stew is considered Malta’s national dish and has been around for centuries making it a cultural delicacy.
The stew itself contains a tomato base stew and typical root vegetables like carrots, onions and potatoes.
The rabbit joints are marinated in a robust red wine along with garlic and bay leaves for an extra depth of flavor. Browning the rabbit prior to stewing it gives the dish an extra burst of flavor.
Since rabbit meat is considered quite lean, pairing this with potatoes and bread is perfect.
The dish is quite popular amongst locals and foreigners that visit Malta. It is considered a must-try recipe for anyone looking to visit.
However, all of the ingredients are easy to find and the dish is simple to recreate in the comfort of your home.
If you’d like to make this dish for yourself, follow the steps below!
- Marinate the rabbit in the wine, garlic and bay leaves for an hour or up to overnight. Cover and chill in the fridge.
- When ready to cook, remove the rabbit joints from the marinade, shaking off excess liquid.
- Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy based pan and sear the rabbit on all sides until browned (approx. 4 min per side.) Set aside.
- Lower the heat and add the onion and some fresh bay leaves.
- Brown the onion gently for around 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the peeled whole canned tomatoes and increase the heat. Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring gently, then add the marinade and bring to a boil.
- Return the rabbit joints to the pan, give a good shake, and top with enough water to cover the rabbit. Cover, and reduce to a medium simmer.
- After a half an hour, add the carrot, potatoes and tomato purée. Make sure the vegetables are evenly coated with the liquid. Continue to simmer for another half hour.
- After an hour, prop the lid half off to allow the sauce to thicken up. Check the rabbit after 15 minutes – the stew is ready when the rabbit is just falling off the bone and the vegetables are tender.
- Serve with fennel seed and olive roast potatoes or mashed potatoes and bread to mop up the delicious and rich sauce.
2 rabbits, skinned and jointed
3/4 bottle robust red wine
2 cups water approx.
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
8-10 bay leaves
1 x 400g can whole plum tomatoes, mashed
3 tbsp tomato purée
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
6-8 medium potatoes, peels and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil