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Braised Rabbit Puttanesca

By MacLean Fraser
  •   6th Dec, 2019 Dec 6, 2019, 12:00 AM
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I’m sure many of you, like me, started out learning to hunt and shoot by doing some pest control targeting possums and rabbits with the old man.


Now that I have kids and they’re getting to the age that they’re keen for me to take them out hunting this is something I really want to encourage and a bit of pest control is a great way to ease into it. It’s win/win.


One of the values that I have and that I want to pass on to my kids is that if you’re taking an animals life you do it for a reason and you do your absolute best not to waste it. Rabbit is delicious and if you feel like having a go tanning the skins you can buy kits cheaply online (or google homemade recipes) and the kids love the fluffy skins and will have a tangible memory of their hunting time spent with you.


Rabbit being a nice lean meat can dry out so you want to cook in a way which will keep it moist and this usually means cooking it quick and pink or low and slow. Trimming off as much sinew and silver skin as you can will also help stop it from being tough once cooked. This recipe cooks the rabbit low and slow in ingredients which then can double as a pasta sauce. Now you might think adding anchovies sounds a bit fishy but trust me, they make this dish taste great (seasoning) and it won’t taste fishy... honest.


Makes 4 portions.



1 Rabbit

1 Onion

4 Cloves Garlic

1 Red Chilli

8 Anchovies

3 Tbs Capers

8 Black Olives

1 Bay Leaf

2 x 410g Tins of Tomatoes

500ml Chicken Stock

2 Tbs Cooking Oil



For the rabbit: Gut and skin the rabbit removing the head and feet. Remove any silver skin as best you can, this will help keeping the meat tender but it will be braised so you don’t need to be excessive. Joint the rabbit into 6 pieces by removing the back legs by cutting through the hip joint, the front legs by cutting through the spine behind the shoulder blades and then cut the remaining frame into two pieces. Roast off in a hot oven until browned and set to one side.


For the sauce: Slice the onion and roughly crush the garlic. Slice the chilli finely (removing the seeds if you don’t want to have a little kick). Using a Dutch oven on the stovetop fry the onion, garlic and chilli in the cooking oil until nicely browned. Add the Rabbit and all the other ingredients, bring to the simmer and then with the lid on braise in the oven at 160C for 2hrs until the meat is tender and can be pulled away from the bone.



Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if required but should not need it due to the salt already in the capers and anchovies. If you like you can keep the rabbit whole and serve with some buttered pasta or couscous, or you take the meat off the bone and shred it and toss it through some cooked pasta along with the sauce. If you’re going to do this then make sure you’re careful to remove and discard all the bones as they can be quite small and fiddly. Garnish it with some chopped parsley or basil.


About MacLean

“I am a professional chef and amateur hunter. I have spent time hunting in most of the North Island ranges but do most of my hunting in the Tararua’s.


Working as a chef has sent me to several locations in the world and I have worked in New Zealand, Malaysia, Cook Islands and the Maldives.


I first started out hunting rabbits and possums with my old man when I was a kid before moving on to goats and deer as I grew older. As a chef I like to use the best produce available. Hunters when killing humanely and taking only what they need can end up cooking with not only the most ethically harvested meat but when dealt with properly, the best quality also.


I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from and how best not to waste it, and that’s why I think hunting and cooking marry so well together and that’s what I hope to promote and achieve through sharing the recipes and techniques we use to cook wild game professionally.”




MacLean Fraser,

Executive Chef,

Artisan Dining House,

Bolton Hotel,



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