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The Rabbit, Ischia-style

The Rabbit, Ischia-style

Recipe of the Ischian Style Rabbit

Many stars over the centuries have fallen in love with this recipe, as many are the renowned chefs who have prepared and/or reinterpreted the ancient version.
Below we will offer you some historical hints of the recipe, a couple of curiosities, and the version of Romantica Resort & Spa.


Source: Romantica Resort & Spa

The story

The rabbit reached Ischia with the Phoenicians thousands of years ago and thanks to its reproductive capacity, shortly afterward, it colonized the island, becoming one of the main forms of sustenance of the native population. The ancient recipe seems to be linked to the people of Syracuse.
They colonized the island about 2500 years ago and decided to exploit the abundance of this animal to appease their hunger, thereby creating one of the most ancient culinary traditions of the island. 
Over the centuries, the recipe has been enriched with variations and ingredients, the most important of which is certainly the cherry tomato imported from the Americas, whose flavor was then enhanced by the volcanic soil of the island and the "piennolo" conservation technique.

Rabbit breeding

Ischia is famous all over the world for the breeding method of this animal. Indeed, when the number of wild rabbits decreased, the need to breed them emerged, but rather than raising rabbits in traditional cages, Ischia's inhabitants started to experiment with pit breeding. It consists of digging an (at least)
2-meter deep pit and then leaving the rabbits free to dig tunnels and interact as if they were in the wild. The breeder feeds the animals by throwing grass into the ditch and leaving them free to eat as and how much they want. Once the animals have grown up, the farmer goes down into the ditch to choose the rabbit most ready for slaughter. The animal must be adult but must not exceed 1.8 kg, otherwise, it will be too tough and unsuitable for the recipe.


Source: Romantica Resort & Spa


  • 1 Rabbit (1,2 kg)
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 10/15 Vesuvius tomatoes
  • Dried marjoram 
  • Extra virgin olive oil q.s. 
  • Salt q.s.
  • 1 tuft of basil 
  • 1 sprig of Piperna 
  • 1 glass of  Biancolella Ischia white wine (or another dry white wine)
  • 1 chilli 

The Recipe of the Ischian Style Rabbit by Romantica Resort & Spa

Source: Romantica Resort & Spa

  1.  Dissect the rabbit into 10 pieces: head; neck; the two front legs; the two back legs and divide the back into four equal pieces.
  2. Wash the rabbit thoroughly with running water and let the pieces drain for as long as necessary.
  3. Fill the bottom of a copper pot with extra virgin olive oil and add a few cloves of poached garlic and chili pepper. Bring the oil to temperature, fry the garlic and add the pieces of rabbit to brown (do not put the rabbit entrails at this stage, they will be added later).

    source: Copyright Saporie
  4. When the rabbit is well browned, add the Ischian white wine Biancolella and let the alcohol evaporate.
  5. If you are using a clay or earthenware pot, move the rabbit and its browning to the new pot and then add the diced tomatoes and the rabbit entrails.
  6. Add salt and the aromatic herbs: basil and piperna.
  7.  Lower the flame, turn it from time to time and if necessary add more white wine and/or water, continue cooking for about 1 hour.
  8. In the meantime, cook the bucatini and drain them while still al dente. and stir them with the rabbit sauce. 
  9. Serve it romantically to taste a little bit of Ischia!

Curiosity and Advice

  • La piperna: Piperna: it is undoubtedly the secret ingredient for a successful recipe. Also known as Timo Serpillo, it is a wild species of thyme that grows among the ischian parracine. It is a very widespread plant in Europe and is certainly typical of the Ischian countryside. 

    source: Google image
  • The pot: We suggest to change the pot after browning.  The traditional recipe prescribes to complete the cooking of the rabbit in an earthenware pot so that the pieces almost stuck together do not crumble. Moreover, it seems that cooking in terracotta gives the venison a sweeter taste.We support this thesis but, in the absence of the terracotta pot, a non-stick pan will still allow us to prepare a delicious version of the recipe.
  • The Vesuvian tomato of Piennolo: The Vesuvian tomato of Piennolo: This is a kind of tomato typical of the slopes of Vesuvius that is preserved with the technique of piennolo so as to have the fresh product all year round.  In case you can't find them, you can use a piccadilly tomato.

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