Farmers’ markets sell rabbits, which goes some way to make up for their absence from many city butchers and supermarkets. The best rabbits are those that are imported from France – they are large, well-flavoured and succulent, and if you can carry back a rabbit or two from a French supermarket (where they are beautifully jointed and packed), do so. If you have wild rabbit, you will need two to feed four people.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy pan and brown the rabbit pieces on all sides. Lift them out as they are ready and put in the pancetta and shallots. Let them colour in the oil, then return the rabbit, season with salt and pepper and add the rosemary. Pour 150ml sherry or port over the rabbit, let it bubble for a minute or two, add 100ml water, and cover the pan tightly, putting a layer of foil under the lid if necessary. Braise the rabbit over gentle heat for about 1 1/2 hours, turning the pieces from time to time. They will take on a deep golden colour from the sherry. Check that the rabbit is tender by piercing the thickest part of the leg with a thin skewer.
About 20 minutes before the rabbit is ready heat the remaining oil in a heavy pan and fry the almonds until lightly coloured. Add the prunes and the remaining sherry and simmer very gently for 5 minutes. Add this mixture to the rabbit for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.