Bunny for Beginners?
Lately I've been eyeing the whole, skinned rabbits I see in the meat department of my local Asian supermarket. I've never cooked anything with rabbit before, and while I would probably feel a bit intimidated to ask for one at a full service butcher (seems like I would need to know what I was doing before embarking on a whole new species, ya know?), the whole self-service aspect is inspiring me to casually toss Peter Cottontail into my basket and figure out what to do with him when I get home.
So, comrades, any ideas for relatively easy recipes to ease my introduction into rabbitude?
The Zuni Cafe cookbook has a very fine approach to rabbit with an especially helpful breakdown of how the parts work. Cutting it into pieces isn't actually a very good way. I always buy two so I can sauté the loin (about three minutes) make sausage with bits, and braise the legs. We feast for days and days.
The rabbit sausage is a bouncy tender mild yumminess enriched with a bit of egg, cream, and bread crumb.
My all time favorite, hands down, is a dish usually(properly) reserved for game(rabit in markets is probably farm raised though).
The dish is "Stifatho"(stifado).
It is a braised meat dish with baby white onions and little else. Many sources of good recipes, all of which I'm sure are delicious. It's Greek, and very good!
Happy Cooking and Good Eats!
I just ran across this method posted on another board - haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like heaven to me. The poster had this in Italy.
Truss the rabbit with onions/lemons in the paunch, then coat the rabbit with a mixture of very finely chopped proscuitto (the the more fat the better), rosemary, vin santo, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. It was then roasted in a very hot outdoor oven.
Many French "bistro" cookbooks have a fairly straightforward recipe for Lapin a la moutarde -- the rabbit is cooked in a delicious mustard sauce. My father (who up to this point cooked only things he could barbecue, macaroni and cheese, and veal piccata) added it to his repertoire while spending a summer in Paris, and made it several times. The recipe he used was in Patricia Wells' Food Lovers' Guide to Paris, but it's basic enough it should be found in many French cookbooks.
re: Caiitlin Wheeler
Some friends of ours got a cheap midwinter excursion deal for Paris and spent about a week there. One bistro had a Lapin dish but one of the friends persuaded the other to try something else, as they were coming back to the same place the next day. And then they didn't come back … so she asked me if I could possibly cook it for all of us. I got the recipe from "La Cuisine Grandmere", a very dandy French comfort-food book, and it was a breeze. And utterly delicious.
My dad hunted small game in the woods of Illinois, and rabbit was one of the commonest critters he brought home. My mom usually seasoned, floured and browned the pieces along with sliced onion, and then braised them in liquid so it made its own gravy. I don't have the recipe, but I'd like to do some research and nail that one down. She used it for rabbits, for our amazingly large squirrels, and once for a young raccoon, which was extraordinary.
re: Jeremy Osner
Are you thinking of a Cassoulet, Jeremy?
Rabbit is very lean and delicate. I've enjoyed the whole smoked rabbit many times with a glass of Ale. It shreads easily, which takes it good finger food. Maybe for a bunny beginner it's good to first cook it as unadorn as possible to get the taste of the rabbit?
(I haven't left the beginner stage, yet. Still enjoying it as is)
Ragù al Coniglio
24 ripe fresh tomatoes en concasse (see *0 below)
2 cans whole tomatoes (San Marzano is good)
16 oven-dried tomatoes (see *1 below), chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped with a bit of the oil
1 tube Italian tomato paste (see *2 below)
1 head garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
1 jalapeno chile, minced and seeded
1 cup fresh basil or 2 Tbsp. dried, chopped
2 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. parsley
2 Tbsp. fennel seed (crack in your hands before adding)
1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
salt and pepper
In a large pan, saute the garlic, onion, and chile in olive oil until translucent.
Add all the tomatoes at once, add the basil, oregano, parsley, fennel, and lime juice.
Simmer for as many hours as you possibly can and adjust the seasoning often. Don't add
salt until the last hour of cooking or it'll be too salty.
*0 En concasse means seeded, cored, and chopped.
*1 Brush a pan with olive oil and lay fresh tomato halves (seeded and cored) cut side down. Add salt and pepper generously and roast in a slow oven for 2 hours.
*2 If you can't get tubed Italian double-concentrate tomato paste, use the God-awful cans and add a teaspoon or two of red wine for fortification.
1 rabbit (3-4 pounds) or rabbit parts, get breasts and legs for sure. (Or use the same amount of lamb, beef, goose, duck, or (ugh) chicken)
1 cup dry red wine
4 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 large onion, minced
1 Tbsp. fennel seed
salt and pepper
If necessary, skin the rabbit and soak it in salt water overnight. Season the rabbit parts once you've dissected it. If using other meat, season well.
In a large pan, heat olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, and fennel. Add the rabbit and brown it thoroughly so it leaves lots of good crust on the bottom, but don't burn it.
Remove the rabbit and deglaze the pan by turning the heat to high and adding red wine. It will cause a LOT of steam! Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to get all those yummy bits. Cook until the wine is almost evaporated.
Add the rabbit back in and cover with tomato sauce. Simmer at least an hour, preferably two, and serve over hot pasta.
Dave Lieberman (Zaphod B)
Hi Steven, The obvious is most likely Hassenpfeffer, but since it's not one of my favorites, I'd recommend a fricassee. Perfect now that cooler weather is upon us. There's wine, brandy, mushrooms, shallots, just delicious. My recipe is in Joy of Cooking, but I'd imagine any good cookbook would have a similar one. Not difficult, if you can make a stew. I cooked many a rabbit when I was shopping on a graduate school budget for my husband. It was less expensive than chicken. Pat
re: Pat Hammond
To my taste, rabbit is not chicken (and vise versa, i guess), but kind of a cross between. Kind of a meatier chicken. Anyway, a great recipe is in one of the Jacques Pepin "Techniques" books. It's for rilletes (sp.??)-- which is basically a very cooked-down, shredded rabbit. A very time-consuming though delicious peasant dish. Good luck.