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Spiced Rabbit Tagine with Peas and Carrots

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Serves 6

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 109

Sara Jenkins created this recipe based on her husband’s memories of his Moroccan grandmother’s cooking. She seasons the dish with ras el hanout, a heady spice blend used often in Moroccan cuisine. If you have a terra-cotta tagine, use it here; it will impart a subtle earthy flavor to the dish. Otherwise, a Dutch oven or heavy-duty pot works well.

  • 2 (2-1/2-lb. rabbits), cut into 8 pieces each
  • 2 Tbs. ras el hanout 
  • Flaky sea salt (such as fleur de sel) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 long, slender carrots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced on the diagonal into 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Tip:
A whole chicken cut into 8 or 10 pieces is a fine stand-in for rabbit.

Put the rabbit in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir the ras el hanout with 2-1/2 tsp. salt and 1-1/2 tsp. pepper; then sprinkle it all over the rabbit. Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil over the rabbit and turn the pieces to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the rabbit from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Heat a flameproof terra-cotta tagine, an 8-quart Dutch oven, or other heavy-duty pot over high heat. Peel back an edge of the plastic from the bowl and use the plastic to hold the rabbit back while you pour the oil from the bowl into the pot. Once the oil is hot, add half of the rabbit (about 8 pieces) meaty side down and cook until golden-brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is golden, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the rabbit to a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rabbit pieces.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil to the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onion is soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup water and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the rabbit and carrots, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and rearrange the rabbit pieces so the ones on the bottom of the pan are now on the top. If the pan looks dry, add 1/4 cup water. Cover and simmer until the rabbit is very tender, 30 minutes more. Stir in the peas and cilantro, increase the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with roasted potatoes or fresh, crusty bread.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 550; Fat (g): fat g 29; Fat Calories (kcal): 260; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 56; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 14; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1480; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 150; Fiber (g): fiber g 5;

Photo: Scott Phillips

The flavors are delicious! The only reason I'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is the rabbit was a bit tough when cooked as directed. We used the rabbit my husband brought back from a recent hunting trip. After simmering for 60 minutes it was still not tender - I extended the cooking time for another 15 minutes but was worried about the carrots becoming mushy. I will definitely make it again though, next time will braise the rabbit on its own for 45 minutes or so, then add carrots and continue the recipe from there. Leftovers were gobbled up the next day and even my 10-month-old loved the flavor of the peas and carrots.

Great recipe and flavor, it got rave reviews from the family. I made my own ras el hanout using the formula shown in the Feb/Mar 2011 Fine Cooking which gave it a nice depth of flavor. Served it with brown rice cooked with a homemade poultry stock. Will definitely do this again.

Delicious and easy recipe to use. We made it with chicken and turned out very tender.

Very simple and the family loved it. I added sweet potato wedges to the pot for the full cooking time and it worked well. Served over couscous.

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