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Rabbit Stew with Pearl Barley

Rabbit stew is as old school as it gets this one is delightfully frugal, packed with flavour and features the much-underused pearl barley.

Portrait close up image of a shredded rabbit stew with pearl barley, carrots and leeks served in a white bowl

An Old Fashioned British Stew

I’m kicking off my slow transition to autumnal food with a delicious and simple stew recipe. Yes, I’m being all populist again with my fancy old-fashioned ingredients and traditional cooking methods.

This recipe is not my first rabbit recipe here on Krumpli. It joins a rabbit tagine, rabbit cacciatore, and a rabbit ragu.

This recipe, however, is a little closer to home and is very British indeed.

It is the sort of thing that would make my gran smile a great deal!

Rabbit was one of the sources of protein that was not rationed during WWII in the UK and during the rationing period after. As a result, it became understandably a popular ingredient.

I genuinely love the stuff, it has a wonderfully subtle flavour that is nothing at all like chicken! So forget everything that you have ever read.

It is exceptionally lean and has a tendency to dry out when cooked quickly.

Consequently, this slow simmer approach of the bony leg cut is the perfect foolproof introduction to cooking rabbit.

You could swap this out for other rabbit pieces, but be careful of the loin which is notorious for drying out.

Portrait overhead image of a shredded rabbit stew with pearl barley, carrots and leeks served in a white bowl

What is Pearl Barley?

Wait for it folks, pearl barley is… Wait for it… Barley! Ok, it is barley that has the inedible husk removed and then polished to remove the bran.

It is a pretty ancient ingredient often associated with ‘padding’ out frugal dishes. I personally love the flavour, it is kinda nutty and has the most wonderful chewy texture.

I use it in this rabbit stew in a similar way to the way I use it in my cockaleekie soup. Yes, you read that name right, and yes you have to click the linky thing to find out more!

In some ways it is there to provide bulk, but in the main, it is there for texture and flavour.

This recipe is a slowly simmered stew, which means the vegetables in it go pretty soft… You could add in the vegetables later but then you would lose the wonderful depth of flavour you get from them.

They enhance the stock and that flavour gets all sucked up by the barley. The pearl barley then takes centre stage for texture in this dish preventing everything being a little ‘soft’.

Pearl Barley is also the base ingredient of Orzotto, a north Italian sibling dish of risotto. Most importantly a dish I really must share with you this winter!

Portrait image of a shredded rabbit stew with pearl barley, carrots and leeks served in a white bowl with a red cooking pot in the background

Serving Suggestions and Storage.

This recipe really is a hearty one pot meal with nothing else needed.

That does not stop me from pairing it with a nice crunchy bread though.

My personal favourite is a nice simple soda bread, it is tasty, quick to make and does not need any prooving.

This recipe is a rarity here and serves 4-6 rather than my normal 2.

I will store in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. It should be reheated over a medium heat with a lid on until piping hot.

Alternatively it will freeze for up to 3 months.

Square image of a shredded rabbit stew with pearl barley, carrots and leeks served in a white bowl
Yield: 4 Servings

Rabbit Stew Recipe with Pearl Barley

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Rabbit stew may seem old fashioned and a little staid, but it is the most wonderful hearty meal. This one is bulked out with pearl barley and despite being filling remains wonderfully light.


  • 2 Rabbit Legs
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Neutral Cooking Oil
  • 150 g (2/3 Cup) Bacon
  • 150 g (1 1/3 Cup) Carrots
  • 75 g (3/4 Cup) Shallot
  • 1 Celery Stalk
  • 125 g (1/2 Cup) Leek
  • 1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 Litre (1 Quart) Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 100 g (1/2 Cup) Pearl Barley
  • 1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper, To Taste


  1. Finely dice the shallot and finely slice the celery.
  2. Cut the carrot into 2.5 cm lengths and the leek into 1cm thick coins.
  3. Remove the rind from the bacon and cut into thick batons.
  4. Season your rabbit legs with salt and pepper and then dredge with flour.
  5. Heat a pan over a medium high heat and when hot add the oil.
  6. Fry the rabbit legs until golden on all sides, remove and set aside.
  7. Cook the bacon in the oil for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the celery and shallot to the bacon, reduce the heat to medium and fry for 5 minutes.
  9. Throw the leeks and carrots into the pan along with the fennel seeds.
  10. Add the tomato puree and pearl barley and stir.
  11. Pour in the stock
  12. Taste and add salt and pepper as required.
  13. Drop in the rabbit legs, bruise the rosemary and add that too.
  14. Cover with a lid and reduce to a gentle simmer for 75 minutes.
  15. Remove the rabbit legs and shred off the meat, returning to the pan to reheat before serving with lots of fresh parsley.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 530Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 1118mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 4gSugar: 11gProtein: 35g

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Monday 29th of March 2021

Made this tonight and really enjoyed my bowl. Made a soda bread to go with it in a pinch and that really completed the meal. Thanks for your recipe.

Brian Jones

Monday 5th of April 2021

So glad that you enjoyed it.


Thursday 28th of January 2021

Hi Brian,just seen this recepi on Pinterest and I have a little question for you,I got given a pheasant from a farm in Wales and I have never cooked or tasted pheasant so i was wondering if I could use this recepi for it instead of a rabbit if I cut it into portions (don't even know how to do that :)) thanks in advance if you know the answer to this random question.


Friday 29th of January 2021

@Brian Jones, Wow, thank you for replying so quickly and it was ever so helpful, guess I would maybe have to double the recepi as it´s whole bird instead of two rabbit legs. The video was extremely helpful too. I have to admit I´m really nervous about cooking this, I thought about just throwing it away but felt bad for the old guy who brought it from Wales to Manchester and I would hate the thought of the bird dying for no reason too :) Next on my list are some of your curries, being born in Iceland I had never tasted a Indian food before I moved to England and wasn´t keen, now I´m completely converted and could have it for breakfast (I actually have done that a few times after a few drinks the night before, don´t judge me) Thanks for your help and have a good weekend :) Rakel.

Brian Jones

Thursday 28th of January 2021

Hi Rakel... Pheasant can be a funny old bird but braising it is definitely the best way to deal with a wild one so yes you could use this recipe. The timing you may need to alter a little, 45-60 minutes may be enough, all you can do is start it off and be prepared for anywhere between 45 minutes and 75 minutes, you can remove the pheasant from the broth to prevent to slow the cooking and reheat later to serve. You can even drop the breast in later as it can have a tendency to dry out, 25 minutes should be plenty for the breast meat.

A meat thermometer really is your friend, the breast is best cooked to around 65C whereas the leg is best up at 80-85C.

I'd leave it on the bone rather than shred it after and in terms of breaking it down it is very similar to a chicken, I have a video on my FB page the only thing I would do differently is leave the breast on the bone, by cutting through the ribs with some poultry shears.

I hope that helps a little, have fun :) Brian


Monday 10th of September 2018

I've never had rabbit, but I have to admit this looks amazing! I'll have to give this a try soon!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

Thank Kim.

Kelly Anthony

Monday 10th of September 2018

Great information on rabbit and pearl barley which I'm neither super familiar with. Thanks for the tips and great recipe.

Brian Jones

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

Cheers Kelly


Monday 10th of September 2018

This is a delicious and hearty stew for fall! The bacon adds a fantastic flavor along with the pearl barley.

Brian Jones

Wednesday 12th of September 2018

Thanks Lisa

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