Step 1Quarter 1 of the onions, peel and slice half the carrots and crush 2 of the garlic cloves. Place in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the rabbit, wine, bouquet garni, one of the strips of orange zest, and the peppercorns. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Step 2Chop the remaining onion, peel and slice the remaining carrots, and mince the remaining 4 garlic cloves.
Step 3Place a colander over a large bowl and drain the contents of the bowl. Keep the bouquet garni and carrots and discard the quartered onion and crushed garlic. Dry the rabbit pieces thoroughly with paper towels and set aside.
Step 4Line a sheet pan with parchment and place the flour on the parchment. Season the flour with 1/8 teaspoon salt and a couple grinds of pepper, or to taste. Season the rabbit pieces with ½ teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper, or to taste, and lightly dredge in the flour.
Step 5In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large, heavy casserole.
Step 6Increase the heat to medium-high and, working in batches so that you don’t crowd the pan, brown the rabbit on all sides. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Add olive oil as necessary to the pan once you have browned the first batch. Transfer the rabbit pieces to the casserole with the pancetta. When all of the rabbit pieces have been browned, pour off the fat from the pan and discard.
Step 7Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Stir in the chopped onion and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add the celery and half the carrots that were not in the marinade. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes, then add the carrots from the marinade. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook the vegetables together, stirring often, until the onions are lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant, then add any flour remaining on the parchment and stir for a couple of minutes. Transfer the mixture to the casserole.
Step 8Remove the skillet from the burner and place the casserole with the rabbit and vegetables over medium heat. Add the wine marinade, bouquet garni, tomato paste, the additional bay leaf, and salt to taste (begin with 1 teaspoon). Bring slowly to a gentle simmer, skimming off any foam. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining orange peel and carrots, cover again and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour, until the rabbit is very tender and the sauce fragrant. Remove the bouquet garni, the bay leaf and the orange zest. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight if possible.
Step 9Scrape off fat from the surface of the stew, and reheat gently. Simmer for 15 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings again. Just before serving add chopped fresh parsley and thyme leaves. Serve with pasta, polenta, rice, potatoes, or thick slices of toasted country bread.