1 whole rabbit*
10 black peppercorns
6 sprigs of thyme
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of ice cubes
10 black peppercorns
8 parsley stems
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, unpeeled and quartered
1 medium carrot, unpeeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup rabbit or chicken stock
1 cup chopped, canned tomatoes
12 small cipollini or white boiling onions, peeled and trimmed but still whole
1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
*In 7 pieces: 2 back legs, 2 front legs, 2 bone-in loin sections. Reserve carcass for stock.
To brine the rabbit, place pieces in a non-reactive bowl with peppercorns, thyme, and garlic. In a large measuring cup, combine boiling water, salt, and sugar. Stir until salt and sugar have melted. Add ice cubes and stir until they have melted. Pour brine over rabbit. Cover and refrigerate for two hours. Remove rabbit from brine, pat dry with a clean towel, and refrigerate until ready to use. Discard brine.
To make rabbit stock, place carcass, peppercorns, parsley stems, onion, and carrots in a large pot. Cover with cold water and place over medium heat. Simmer stock for 2 hours. Strain and set aside. (Leftover stock you can refrigerate or freeze for use like chicken broth.)
To make sauce, melt butter and oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium high heat. When the butter foams, add rabbit pieces and brown them on all sides. Remove the rabbit from the pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add sliced onions. Cook, stirring, until they are well softened but have not browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic cloves, stir to coat them in fat, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in sweet and smoked paprika, and cook for 1 minute.
Add wine, turn the heat to medium high, and boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Add stock, tomatoes, cipollini or boiling onions, and green peppers. Nestle reserved pieces of rabbit into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce the sauce by a third. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes before serving hot with buttered noodles, creamy polenta, spaetzle, or crusty bread.