1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Two 3-pound rabbits, each cut into 10 pieces (see Note)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry red wine
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 rosemary sprigs, tied into 2 bundles with kitchen string
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 pound Niçoise olives (1 1/2 cups)
In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, brown the rabbit over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until crusty all over, about 10 minutes; lower the heat to moderate for the second batch. Transfer the rabbit to a large plate.
Add the wine to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the wine into a cup; wipe out the skillet.
Add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil to the skillet. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and rosemary bundles and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rabbit and any accumulated juices along with the reserved wine to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until sizzling, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the olives and the remaining 2 cups of stock and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and the rabbit is tender, about 20 minutes longer. Discard the rosemary bundles. Serve the rabbit in shallow bowls.
The stew can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Rabbit is sold at butcher shops and farmers' markets.
Rabbit stew will pair well with a full-bodied Italian red—nothing too delicate, as the wine has to stand up to the dish's rustic flavors. A good Montepulciano d'Abruzzo would be an ideal choice.