Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
X Italian Meat Dishes
Pizzaiola (Rabbit Baked with Potatoes)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Campobasso
Occasion: Special events
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

Printer Friendly Version


For marinade

1 cup dry white wine
1/8 cup olive oil
about 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
about 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
about 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
about 4 cloves garlic, chopped
about 2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves


1 rabbit, cut into pieces
8 ripe tomatoes
3 potatoes, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt


1. Mix marinade ingredients.

2. Place rabbit in a container and cover it with the marinade.

3. Cover the container and place in the fridge.

4. Marinate the rabbit in the marinade for about 14 hours (or overnight).

5. After the rabbit has been marinated, remove from fridge.

6. Drain the rabbit from the marinade, getting rid of the liquid, but keeping the herbs, except for the bay leaf.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.

8. Cut tomatoes into small pieces.

9. Peel the potatoes and cut into wedges.

10. Add olive oil to a baking pan.

11. Arrange the pieces of rabbit in the pan, adding the tomatoes and potatoes. Cover.

12. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2 hours.

13. Serve with salad and Italian bread.


Prior to World War II many farmers in Molise raised rabbits, including my paternal grandparents. As all meat was considered a delicacy back then, a stew made with rabbit would only be served on special occasions. This type of dish would be baked on the hearth in a special cookware called a "fornicella" that was covered in hot embers [For notes on the fornicella see "Grilled Lamb Chops"]. In the 1930s meats were not grilled as the equipment needed for the grilling was not available. Most farmers did have thin grills that they toasted bread on, but they were not good enough for meats. Besides, most people didn't even like their bread toasted because it got burnt easily on the grill. So if bread got too dry, most people preferred to moisten it with water, rather than toast it. Generally speaking most meats (except for sausages) were stewed or baked, they were not grilled, nor were they fried. Sausages were served fried or stewed after the pig killing, but most sausages were air-dried, and eaten as cold cuts. Apparently, the reason this particular meat dish was called "pizzaiola" was because it used the same topping as a pizza -- tomatoes, garlic and oregano. Photo: by the contributor.

Back to main list