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Many Americans first heard of this recipe (and learned how to pronounce it - "HAH-zuhn-fehf-uhr") while watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon featuring intrepid outdoorsman Elmer Fudd. Unfortunately, that's as close as some kids will ever get to understanding the connection between hunting and a great dish like this traditional German rabbit stew. Elmer Fudd, alas, did not enjoy the services of a capable canine companion, and thus never got as far as actually making this meal.

Half the battle is deciding how to spell the name of the recipe. It's often seen, less correctly, as "haasenpfeffer," "hausenpheffer," "hasenfeffer," or any of several variations on those themes. But we're comfortable stating here that in German, "hasen" means "hare" (essentially, a large rabbit), and "pfeffer" means "pepper." So, hasenpfeffer is "pepper-rabbit." Now, as to how much rabbit, how much pepper, and so on:

  • 3 pounds of hare or rabbit, cut into pieces. A single large animal will sometimes do the job.
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup dry red wine, such as a cabernet sauvignon (the rest of which will go very nicely with dinner!)
  • 1 tablespoon of instant chicken bouillon
  • 10 crushed black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried, crushed rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 pound of diced bacon
  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of currant jelly
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons of water

Sprinkle the rabbit meat with salt. Coat with the 1/3 cup of flour, shaking off the excess. Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, then remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Brown a few pieces of the rabbit in the hot bacon fat, and then remove the browned pieces. Repeat with remaining rabbit until done. Remove all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan.

Cook and stir the shallots and garlic in the hot fat in the Dutch oven until the shallots are tender - usually about 4 minutes. Stir in the wine, the 1 cup of water and the instant chicken bouillon, and heat to boiling. Stir in the jelly, peppercorns, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Return the rabbit meat and bacon to the Dutch oven. Heat again to boiling, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer until the rabbit is tender - usually about 1-1/2 hours.

Remove the bay leaf and discard it. Place the rabbit on a warm platter, and keep it warm while preparing the gravy. Stir lemon juice into the liquid that remains in the Dutch oven. Shake the 3 tablespoons of water and the 2 tablespoons of flour in a covered jar. Stir the flour mixture into the drippings in the pan, and make a gravy which you'll use to cover the rabbit meat when served on a warm plate.

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