My family spent a weekend this summer camping near Mount Rainier in Washington state. We packed light – I was determined to keep it simple. What’s better than a hot dog cooked on a stick over a roaring fire, really? My one concession to complex campfire cookery: Rabbit Stew. It sounds so rustic, just the sort of thing one should make when braving the wilds of a National Forest Service campground (beetles and skeeters and pit toilets, oh my!). If you have a fire pit, try cooking this stew over an open fire - the smoke imparts a flavor that compares to no other.
Marinate the rabbit with the vermouth, 4 cloves of peeled and smashed garlic, and the Herbes de Provence overnight in the fridge, turning occasionally.
For the Stew:
Choose a heavy pot large enough to hold the rabbit. Cook the bacon in the pot over medium high heat until the bacon just begins to brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate.
Turn down the heat to medium, add the fennel, thyme, and 4 cloves of peeled and smashed garlic. Cook until the fennel softens and begins to brown.
Set aside the vegetables with the bacon. Drain the rabbit, discarding the garlic from the marinade. Salt and pepper the meat. Turn the heat back up to medium high, and brown the rabbit. Cook until the rabbit skin is golden, approximately10 minutes per side. Let the meat sit in the pan undisturbed for at least 5 minutes. Once the skin is browned it won’t stick to the pan.
Once the rabbit is browned, return the vegetables to the pot. Add the tomatoes (without their liquid), the potatoes (sliced in half), and the stock. Bring the stew to a boil, then partially cover the pot and let it simmer for two hours over medium-low heat.
Serve at once with crusty bread for dipping, or keep the stew in the fridge for a day or three.