Coniglio alla stimpirata – Sicilian sweet and sour rabbit

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This Sicilian sweet and sour rabbit recipe (coniglio alla stimpirata in Italian) is enjoyed across the island, often served at room temperature when the weather’s particularly warm. The vinegar and sugar dressing adds an incredible amount of flavour to the rabbit – although you can swap this out for chicken or fish if you like.

First published in 2018

Coniglio alla stimpirata is a sweet and sour dish whose popularity reaches all corners of Sicily. Its distinctive flavour results from the combination of vinegar and fresh herbs, which, together, create an intense cocktail that is at once fresh and pleasantly pungent, and which is best enjoyed at room temperature. Rabbit is the most common meat to cook alla stimpirata –– from stemperare, which means to temper or to tone down. However, this same recipe works well with chicken or white fish, too. As for the vegetables, you can add or remove as you please. For example, courgettes can be added instead of peppers, while the potatoes could be left out to make the dish a tad lighter.




Coniglio alla stimpirata

  • 1kg rabbit, cut into 6 pieces
  • white wine vinegar, as needed
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery sticks, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 red pepper, topped, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 yellow pepper, topped, seeed and cut into strips
  • 60g of pitted green olives
  • 1 tbsp of capers
  • 50g of caster sugar
  • fine sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh mint leaves, as needed


Place the rabbit in a large bowl and cover it with vinegar. Leave to soak for about 10 minutes, then drain, rinse and pat dry
Heat the oil in a large, high-edged skillet. Add the rabbit and brown on both sides over a medium-high heat. Remove from the skillet and set aside
Next, add the garlic, chilli, bay leaf, carrots, onion, celery and potato to the skillet. Stir-fry over a medium heat until softened. Add the peppers and a splash of water. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until all the vegetables have become tender. Add more water as needed
Add the rabbit back to the skillet. Add the olives and capers and another splash of water. Cover once again and cook for 15 extra minutes, or until the rabbit is cooked through and any excess liquid has evaporated from the pan. Season to taste
Finally, increase the heat to medium-high. Combine 60ml white wine vinegar with the sugar and pour this over the rabbit. Allow the vinegar to evaporate. Turn off the heat and garnish with fresh mint leaves
Let the dish rest for about 6 hours, so the flavours can mingle and “get acquainted”. Reheat slightly just before serving. In the summer, it can be served at room temperature

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