Hasenpfeffer! A rich rabbity stew from Germany

Prepping for hasenpfeffer

Prepping sausage for hasenpfeffer

My regular readers will know that our Frozen in Ottawa dinner is well in hand. This, my fourth post on the subject, answers the question, “What should we serve for the main course?”

The man of the house wanted to feature his winter stew-making skills, well-honed in our climate. He suggested “Hasenpfeffer,” a dish he had recently cooked for the family with success. In fact, I thought it was the best stew he had ever made for us. But… what kind of meat is that, you might wonder.


If you knew a little German, it would help. Hasen means rabbit. And pfeffer means seasoned or spiced. So now you know. No sense in being sentimental. We were having Bugs Bunny for dinner… and not as a guest.

I wasn’t squeamish. Rabbits are farmed in far more humane ways than most of the traditional animals we see in the meat counter. But I wondered if our guests would feel the same? So I took most of the bones out and called it German stew. That lasted all of 2 seconds before people were asking in loud voices, “Well? What meat did you use in the stew?” And they wouldn’t take “sausages” for an answer.

I hope they liked it, regardless. It turned out just as we had hoped – full of rich, good meaty flavors.

Its richness hit in the pocketbook, as well as on the taste buds. Although we began with a recipe called, “Poor man’s rabbit,” at 18 dollars each for two rabbits the dish was far from inexpensive. Seasoned with bacon, sausage, shallots, and red currant jelly, then braised in red wine, the cost went up from there. But it served eight people generously and made for a nice wintery treat.


AKA Rabbit stew, German style
Serves 8-10

  • 2 rabbits, cleaned of all giblets and fat, and cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 cup shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 cups dry red wine
  • 1 or 2 cups beef or veal stock
  • 2 tablespoons red current jelly
  • a handful of peppercorns, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and/or savory, wrapped in cheesecloth for easy removal later
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups cleaned small whole button mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced cooked sausage
  1. Soak bunnies overnight in cold water, in the fridge.
  2. Shake the flour, salt and pepper together in a big paper bag
  3. Dredge the rabbit pieces in the seasoned flour and shake off excess flour
  4. In a large, deep, heavy stew pot, brown bacon over medium-high heat. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and set aside.
  5. Brown rabbit in the bacon fat, turning on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  6. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Brown the shallots and garlic for 4 minutes until tender.
  7. Stir in the wine, stock, jelly, and herbs. Return the rabbit and bacon to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Braise slowly for 1 1/2 hour or until the meat is tender.
  8. Remove the meat and discard the herbs.
  9. Make the gravy by stirring the lemon juice, orange rind and balsamic vinegar into the liquid. Thicken if necessary with flour blended into a little of the liquid, then added back to the pan.  On medium heat, stir until thickened. Add the mushrooms and sausage, then heat through, about 10 minutes.

To serve

Pour the mushroom gravy over the meat and serve with your sides. We roasted some cipollini onions with balsamic vinegar and added a few Christmas pierogis to the plate.

The recipe for pierogis is already up. Cipollini onions is up next time.


Rabbit meat packs in a lot of protein, with much less saturated fat than beef or pork. Lean on fat, it’s low in calories but big on the trace minerals selenium and phosphorus, as well as B vitamins. All of this means good health for your heart, as well as your love life. It also means a well-functioning metabolism, active antioxidant production and a strong immune system for optimum protection from disease.



11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. StefanGourmet
    May 05, 2015 @ 09:19:53

    Great recipe for Hasenpfeffer. Hare (Hase in German, Latin name Lepus) and rabbit (Kaninchen in German, Latin name Oryctolagus) are often confused in English, but they are two different animals. They are both furry and have long ears and look similar, but rabbits are more similar in flavor to chicken (white meat) and hare more similar to venison (red meat). Hare is uncommon in the United States, its closest relative is the jackrabbit.


    • Vinny Grette
      May 05, 2015 @ 13:57:00

      Thanks for the info, Stefan. That might explain why some images of “rabbit” on the internet look like a rich dark meat and others look like chicken. And I concur – I’ve never seen “hare” in the grocery store. I have heard of jackrabbit, though, particularly in regard to the great Canadian cross-country skier Jackrabbit Johannson.


      • StefanGourmet
        May 05, 2015 @ 16:45:10

        LOL. Not sure if stewed cross-country skier would be tasty 😉
        Hare is not available in supermarkets here either, but it is available in specialized poultry stores when in season. Most of our hare is actually imported from Argentina. Hare, like roe deer, cannot be farmed so it is always game/wild.


      • Vinny Grette
        May 05, 2015 @ 17:37:00

        haha – just saying we do have jackrabbits here and they’re common enough that we nicknamed a sports star in honor of them. Hares not so much. Maybe I should keep an eye out and we do import some this game. I love trying unfamiliar things when traveling (although sometimes this can backfire horribly…)


  2. A_Boleyn
    Apr 28, 2015 @ 13:03:40

    For a brief period my parents raised rabbits for food and I had several to experiment with. I tried stew but nothing as elaborate as this. Roasted it was great in jambalaya.


    • Vinny Grette
      Apr 28, 2015 @ 13:57:33

      As it was my hubby who made the stew, I’m not one to comment on how easy it was. The oranges, though seemed vital to the success of the dish :). My daughter has made Jambalaya for us using rabbit and it was delicious :).


      • A_Boleyn
        Apr 28, 2015 @ 14:19:52

        I should really pick up another rabbit at the city market one of these days. Unfortunately my previous rabbit cooking was done in my pre-camera days. I’ve gotten a little ‘obsessive’ since. 🙂


  3. Tony
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 17:57:17

    Vinny – Must tell you my Hasenpfeffer story. I was a sophomore in college. Took the bus to school. A friend of my father had hunted down some rabbits and gave a couple to my father. My mother fixed them for us that night. The next day, I was riding the bus to school and one of my instructors got on. He sat with me and we chatted. I told him about the rabbits we had for dinner the previous night. He looked at me and asked, “Hasenpfeffer?” I replied, “No, shot.”

    Sorry, that jumped to my mind when I read your header.


  4. quirkywritingcorner
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 16:23:29

    Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    My husband quit hunting rabbits ages ago, but I guess I’ll have to find something to make this with.


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