Rabbits Stewed with a Brown Sauce

from Mrs. Dalgairns’s Kitchen

Original Recipe

Wash and clean the rabbits well, let them lie for two or three hours in cold water, cut them into joints, wash and dry them in a cloth, dust them with flour, and fry them a light brown with butter, and stew them in the following sauce: Brown three ounces of butter in a stew pan, with a table-spoonful of flour, a minced onion, some pepper and salt; add a pint of gravy and the rabbits, stew them till they are tender, and a little before serving, stir in a table-spoonful of catsup.

When it is wished to dress them with a white sauce, the rabbits are not fried, but stewed in white stock, which is seasoned with white pepper and salt, and thickened with a piece of butter mixed with flour. A few minutes before serving, a little cream is added, and a table-spoonful of lemon pickle.

Modern Version

A whole rabbit makes 8 pieces – 2 each legs and shoulders, and 4 pieces of the saddle. While it’s not difficult to separate a whole rabbit into these parts, there are many supermarkets and butcher shops that sell already cut-up parts or employ a butcher who will prepare the pieces neatly.


1 rabbit, cut into parts, 3 lbs (1.5 kg)

¼ cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour, divided

1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, divided

1 onion, minced

½ tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper

2 cups (500 mL) chicken broth

1 tbsp (15 mL) Mushroom Catsup * 


Coat the rabbit parts lightly with about half of the flour. Melt 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rabbit and brown gently on both sides, being careful not to let the butter burn. Remove and set aside. 

Add the remaining butter to the saucepan. Stir in the onion, salt, pepper and remaining flour; cook, stirring almost constantly, until the onions are softened and golden.

Stir in the broth, working it into the onion mixture. Nestle the rabbit in the sauce; bring it to a simmer. Cover and simmer, turning the rabbit pieces once or twice, until the juices run clear when the leg is pierced, about 20 minutes. Stir in the Mushroom Catsup; simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Mushroom Catsup: see page 477 in the book or go to  https://canadiancookbooks.ca/chanterelle-and-onion-jam/ Use one tablespoon of jam and mix in one teaspoon of ketchup, 1/8 teaspoon each of allspice, mace, ground ginger.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: A nice alternative to your holiday turkey. I love the chanterelle jam so I always have it available…came in handy for the mushroom catsup.  

Content used with permission by McGill-Queens University Press. https://www.mqup.ca/mrs-dalgairns-s-kitchen-products-9780228005339.php