Rabbit with Fennel and Pancetta Recipe

Rabbit with Fennel and Pancetta

Rabbit meat is low fat and has a delicate flavor. Coniglio con Finocchio e Pancetta, a classic recipe from the Marche region in Italy, uses fennel as its partner, which grows wild there. Fennel has a subtle anise flavor. Rabbit meat is expensive and difficult to obtain in the US due to the “companion issue” campaigns. In Europe, it is widely available and highly regarded as lean meat.

Yield: 4

Time: 60 minutes plus overnight marinating


  • 1 rabbit, about 3 lbs (1,35 kg), cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, 3 cloves finely chopped and 3 finely slivered
  • 3 Tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, about 1 lb (450 g)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water with a slice of lemon to avoid fennel bulb oxidation
  • 1/2 cup (45 g) chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1 inch (2,5 cm) slices
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) pancetta or bacon chopped into 3/8 inch (1,3 cm) dices
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 cup (240 ml) chicken stock


In a small bowl mix the 3 finely chopped garlic cloves, rosemary leaves, salt, and pepper. Add olive oil and make a paste out of it. Rub rabbit pieces all over with the garlic paste. Arrange pieces in a dish, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it overnight in the fridge.

Next day, remove the rabbit from the fridge and set aside while you slice fennel bulbs into 1 inch (2,5 cm) slices. Drop them in lemon water to avoid discoloration. Save green fennel fronds. Chop them coarsely and set aside until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Slice onion into 1 inch (2,5 cm) slices and set aside. Heat 3 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and sauté them until nice and crunchy. Remove pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Add rabbit pieces to the saucepan and brown them nicely on all sides. Remove pieces and set them aside. Add onion to the saucepan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until it begins to soften.

In the meantime drain fennel slices from lemon water and dry them on paper towels. Add them to the onion, together with the 3 remaining slivered garlic cloves. Continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes longer. Add white wine and chicken stock to the saucepan while scraping all brown bits from the bottom. Bring it to a rapid boil and lower the heat. Taste for salt and pepper.

Place rabbit pieces in a roasting pan. Scatter pancetta, fennel, and onion evenly over the rabbit. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until fork-tender. Transfer rabbit pieces from the roasting pan to a platter. Cover it with aluminum foil and keep it warm in the oven. If fennel onion sauce seems too dry, add a bit of water or stock to thin it up. Taste for salt and pepper.

Remove rabbit pieces from the oven, arrange them on serving plates and serve it with the fennel sauce on the side. Top it with finely chopped fennel fronds.

A nice crusty farm bread is just the right companion to this Italian favorite.

Scroll to Top