Hasenpfeffer is also known as braised rabbit in spiced red wine sauce, but the literal translation is “peppered hare.”
We made this dish often when we were first married. That was more than 40 years ago, and rabbit was not as hard to find as it is today. We found some at a local butcher shop, but it came frozen from China, so we took a pass. About a week later, Ditalini found what we were looking for—cut up and frozen rabbit, raised in America—at a high-end grocery store, and we were in business.
1 5-6 lb fresh or defrosted frozen rabbit, cut in serving pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (or substitute onion)
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbs brandy
1 tsp currant jelly
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
Cook bacon until crisp in a large heavy casserole. Remove the bacon and let it dry on paper towels. Put the casserole with the bacon fat aside.
Wash & dry the rabbit, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then dip the pieces in flour. Heat the bacon fat in the casserole on high, then brown the rabbit in the fat, a few pieces at a time. Transfer browned rabbit to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tbsps of bacon fat. Cook the garlic and shallots in the remaining fat. Pour in the wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring in any brown bits sticking to the casserole. Stir in the brandy, currant jelly, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme, and return the rabbit and any juices on the plate to the casserole. Add the bacon, cover the casserole, and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
Just before serving, remove the bay leaf and add the lemon juice. The sauce should be peppery; you can add more pepper if necessary. You can dip the rabbit and sauce out of the casserole or arrange the rabbit pieces on a platter and pour the sauce over them.
Note:if you have to use smaller pieces of rabbit they will cook faster, so check for tenderness after 1 hour. We were able to find a chopped-up 5-6 lb rabbit, as per the recipe, and we cooked ours the full 1 1/2 hours.