Tuna and rabbit, together? Why this odd name?

A legend says that in 19th century the rules about fasting were particularly strict, and the friars in a convent of Avigliana, near Turin, decided to circumvent them by baptising their chickens and rabbits and calling them ‘tuna’ in order to eat them without sinning.

In spite of its country origin and simplicity, it is an elegant and delicious dish, perfect in every season, but particularly appreciated in summer. It was created in Piedmont, in a time where even the most modest families had barnyard animals and because it was necessary to find a way to preserve their meat, given there were no freezers, they started imitating the techniques used for tuna.

Rabbit meat is white and light, perfect for kids and all those who want or need to be careful with red meats. It is healthy and delicious – far from the sadness of eating kale or other depressing vegetables.

Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 people
  • 1 (3-lb) rabbit carcass, cleaned with no head
  • 4-5 stems of fresh sage
  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  • sea salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 bottle delicate olive oil, possibly Ligurian extra virgin
For the broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 cup light dry white wine
  • 70 fl. oz. water
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 stem fresh thyme
  • 3 stems of fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves
  1. Prepare an aromatic broth with basil, peppercorns, celery, onion, carrot, rosemary, bay leaves, cloves, salt, parsley, wine, and water. Let it simmer for 30 minutes and then carefully place the rabbit in the broth.

  2. Cook for 90 minutes, letting it simmer until the meat comes off the bones.

  3. In the meanwhile, wash and dry the sage leaves and clean the cloves of garlic.

  4. Take the rabbit out of the broth and when it is at room temperature bone it by hand, removing the smallest bones and gristle (cartilage). As you do it, season the meat with marine salt and freshly grounded black pepper.

  5. Prepare 4 small jars or a container, pour a bit of oil, add some meat, a clove of garlic, a couple of sage leaves, more oil, meat, garlic and sage and so on until the jar is full. Finish the last layer with garlic, sage and ¼ inch oil. 

  6. Wait 2 days before serving it so the flavours have the time to blend beautifully.

  7. Serving suggestion: I highly recommend steaming 3-4 potatoes, slicing and seasoning them, and serving rabbit pieces on them with its aromatic oil.

  8. The jars can be preserved like this for a week, or frozen.

Recipe Notes

Filter the broth and freeze in 2-3 jars, it is excellent for rabbit stews or rabbit paella.


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About the Author

Growing up in Emilia Romagna, a region known for Parmesan, Parma ham, lasagna, and filled pasta, a great deal of my childhood was spent in the kitchen with my grandmother and mother.

Even at a very young age, I could see that for them cooking was a passionate expression of their love for their family. While I’m filled with many warm memories of watching them cook, what I remember most is circling the table and watching the stove, waiting for any opportunity I could to steal a taste.