Stuffat tal-fenek is a marvellous slow-cooked dish that’s full of flavour, the meat so tender it falls off the bone. This recipe goes further than just one course - Maltese families love to use the rich tomato sauce with pasta as a first course and serve the rabbit with vegetables as a main.
- 1 rabbit (1.5–2 kg)
- 350 ml red wine
- 6 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, 4 peeled and left whole, 2 finely chopped
- 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1.5 litres tomato puree
- 250 ml water
- 3–4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time overnight
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
Remove the rabbit kidneys and liver and set aside. Chop the rabbit into pieces: remove the front and back legs and cut each in half, and chop the body or saddle into 5 pieces. Place the rabbit pieces, kidneys and liver in a large bowl and add the wine, half the bay leaves and the whole garlic. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight, turning the meat a few times.
Strain off the marinade liquid and reserve. Discard the garlic and bay leaves.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Heat the oil in a heavy-based ovenproof pot and gently brown the rabbit on all sides until well sealed and golden. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pot.
Add the onion and chopped garlic to the pot and fry until beginning to soften. Add the tomato paste and marinade liquid and cook for a minute. Add the tomato puree and water and mix well. Return the rabbit to the pot and add the potatoes and remaining bay leaves. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat, cover with a lid and bake for 2½–3 hours.