Friday, 15 October 2010

Stuffat tal-Fenek (Maltese Rabbit Stew)

Cottontail is not impressed by this blog post

One evening we were walking along Spon Street and I noticed a sign in a butcher's window advertising, amongst other things, wild rabbit. I vowed that soon I would purchase some of this rabbit and make a stew. Last weekend that's exactly what I did.

I purchased some diced rabbit from T J Rowland Butchers on Spon Street. It is possibly the tiniest butcher's shop I have ever set foot in and the displays are rather haphazard, but it has a certain charm and the guys in there are very knowledgeable and extremely helpful.

The Maltese like rabbit a lot. My grandparents used to breed them for eating. Unfortunately, several attempts at trying to feed me rabbit when I was a child failed because I couldn't stand the thought of eating cute ickle fluffy bunnies. And I was smart enough to know it wasn't chicken - nice try, parents.

However, my views on the subject have changed somewhat over the years. Ok, well, I've watched a lot of River Cottage, basically, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is very persuasive. So, I'd much rather eat something which has been happily bunnying about in complete freedom and then killed humanely, than something intensively farmed which has been waddling around in its own excrement for months on end. In short, I now have no problem with eating bunnies, particularly wild bunnies, and am probably more comfortable with the idea of eating rabbit than chicken. How things change.

I decided to recover those opportunities I'd missed as a child to have some authentic Maltese rabbit-based grub, and plumped for cooking Stuffat tal-Fenek (Maltese Rabbit Stew). I looked at quite a few different recipes, all slightly different in various ways - I suspect every Maltese family has their own version of all the classic recipes, but this is one I've never learnt - and in the end, I think I mostly followed one on this page (you'll have to scroll down a bit, but it's there). Fellow food-blogger Mer also has a recipe on her blog which looks like an interesting variation using venison.

Anyway, my first attempt at cooking rabbit, and my first taste of it since the sordid attempts at deception during childhood, went rather well.

There is some rabbit in there, I promise you.

Conclusion: I like rabbit. A lot.


  1. we ate rabbit on Market Kitchen this week, which was a first for me!... I once went past a butcher in soho and they had rabbit in the window with the slogan: 'Watership Down... you've read the book, seen the movie... now eat the cast!'

  2. I haven't tried rabbit before, but my mom thinks I'm a horrible person for eating lamb, so I get what you're saying about rabbit.

    But... lamb is so delicious!

  3. Nothing wrong with eating lamb!

  4. I'll happily eat rabbit since we've lived in the sticks, I've seen the damage these fluffy creatures do to farmland and my garden! So if the population has to be kept down then I'd rather eat the rabbit than discard it.

  5. Maltese Rabbit Stew Recipe: Stuffat tal-Fenek
    Ingredients (serves 4)

    1 rabbit, weighing about 1 and a half kilos (or 3 lb and 4.91 oz) when cleaned, portioned

    2 onions, peeled and sliced

    4 garlic cloves, peeled

    3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped

    2 tsp tomato paste

    3 potatoes, peeled and quartered

    5 carrots, peeled and sliced

    200 g (or 7.05 oz) peas

    2 bay leaves

    Pinch mixed herbs

    Half stock cube

    Freshly ground pepper

    275 ml (slightly more than 1 cup) red wine

    Seasoned flour

    1 tsp olive oil


    Season plain flour by adding salt and pepper to it and mix well. Roll the rabbit portions in the flour and shake off any excess flour. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pot, add the rabbit and cook until the outside is slightly brown.
    Add the onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes to the pot. Pour some of the wine over the ingredients. Add the bay leaves, stock and tomato paste. Add the liver, kidneys and peas and bring to the boil.

    Simmer for about one and a half hours or until the rabbit is cooked. Add more wine if the sauce begins to dry up.

    Serving Tip:

    Usually, the rabbit sauce is served as a starter with spaghetti. Followed by the rabbit and more sauce as the main course. You can also serve the main course with vegetables.

  6. my grandmother was Maltese she made this dish using chopped belly of pork and boiled it down so it was quite thick and served it on spagehti lovely ...