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Anyone for Rabbit?

so i'm married to an aussie fellow who loves rabbit. we can buy fresh rabbit here for a reasonable price. the rabbit we ate in France was perfect, moist and flavorful. but so far i haven't found the recipe that delivers the proper technique for a juicy, flavorful outcome. i know it's a super lean meat that doesn't have much flavor on it's own. for as much as i've experimented, all of my attempts to make it have turned out dry and tasteless. does any one have reliable technique for a moist and taste-y rabbit?

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  1. I love love love rabbit, and I find that braising it is the most reliable technique. My favorite is Morrocan-style rabbit, with honey and apricots. it's absolutely killer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dagwood

      I agree with braising. I've done rabbit in mustard sauce, but I really enjoy the piquancy of Rabbit Cacciatore. I've had the meat shredded, also, into a lovely cacciatore "risotto," which was quite nice.

    2. sounds great, dagwood. what do you do (specifically)? i'm a little short on info here.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dogthis

        This is technically more of a stew than a braise, but still very very delicious:

        Cut up rabbit into 4-6 pieces. Leave it on the bones though. Brown the rabbit (see carswell's points below, all very good), remove. Add a chopped onion, saute until soft. Add the rabbit back to the pot with some S&P, turmeric, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Remove the rabbit from the pot and pull the meat off of the bone, (I usually cut up into about 1/2 to 1 inch pieces). Add back to the pot with diced dried apricots, a fair amount of honey, ground cinnamon, and more turmeric. Simmer uncovered until thickened to stew-like consistency.

        Now I'm getting a craving....this may be on the dinner menu at chez dagwood tonight as well :)

        I serve it over couscous but rice would be great too.

        1. re: dagwood

          sounds like really good option. add a little green salad and it's dinner tonite.

      2. Agree that braising is the safest way to go. Also, when browning rabbit, it's important to do so over low or medium heat. Unlike chicken, it doesn't have skin to protect it or subcutaneous fat to moisten it, so cooking over high heat dries out the meat and makes it stringy. Similarly, it should be braised at the lowest possible simmer and not overcooked. Marinating and braising in an acidic liquid will help tenderize it, and adding fat -- in the form of salt pork, bacon or cream, for example -- will help keep it moist.

        1. Rabbit in sour cream is a very traditional Russian dish and my mom makes it best. From what I remember, she soaks the rabbit in cold water with a little vinegar for an hour or 2. She then coats the pices in flour and sautees them until golden brown (may take a while for rabbit meat). She removes the pieces to a warm plate, and sautees some onions until pale and translucent. You can add a bit of butter at that point and 1 or 2 tbsp of flour and just let the flour get a bit of color. Then add water or chicken stock and let it come to a boil. Salt, pepper (bay leaf, if you like). Return rabbit pieces to the sauce, cover and let it simmer on very low heat (or in a low oven) for about an hour or until meat is tender enough to separate easily from the bone. At the end of cooking add 1/2 to a 1 cup of sour cream and heat through (don't boil). Serve with pasta or potatoes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TatyanaG

            I do something quite similar, with minor variation from TatyanaG's version. At the sautee stage, I add sliced cremini mushrooms, and the *barest* scraping of nutmeg. Dill is also a nice addition to this.

          2. Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 has a wonderful braised rabbit recipe. It's the only one I ever make. Everything else tastes - well - awful.
            I don't have the book in front of me but the rabbit is marinated in red wine and herbs....classic.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              I thought you might have suggested using it in a pasta sauce.

              1. re: yayadave

                I tried once... a Maria Lo Pinto recipe. It tasted like fur. Never again.....

              2. re: Gio

                The recipe for Rabbit Marinated in Vinegar and Herbs and Stewed in Red Wine is in Volume Two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

              3. Rabbit in mustard sauce is a French classic which I love. Also Patricia Wells has a recipe for a rabbit and hazlenut terrine in her book Bistro Cooking - also very good. A friend makes a Normandy recipe which is rabbit braised in cider with bacon, mushrooms and shallots, finished with cream which is absolutely delicious. I made rabbit stifado once too, which we enjoyed. As others have said, braising is the way to go to ensure your bunny is tender.

                3 Replies
                1. re: greedygirl

                  the french classic is the one i've attempted and failed at more than once. i definitely have been browning at too high a temperature. we're going to try browning in bacon fat on low this time, and cooking it with white wine, mushrooms, onions, garlic, carrots, and herbs in a crock pot, instead of the stove top, adding cream at the end.

                  1. re: dogthis

                    A couple of years ago I posted an unusual recipe for rabbit in mustard sauce from Caux in Normandy. The meat stays moister than in any other version I know. See: www.chowhound.com/topics/310136#1751570

                    1. re: carswell

                      this looks like a good technique for creme et moustard. when we were in france, my husband ordered "lapin" in every restaurant that had it on their menu. being aussie, he called it la-pin (like a cat "lappin'" up milk). Every waiter walked away with a snicker, to which we figured it was due to his aussie-accented framçais. turns out that pronunciation is slang for a particular part of the male anatomy which we only found out about at the end of our trip. so embarassing.

                2. Being a "Burgundy-Girl" at heart, I love the Burgundy-style rabbit. However, we also like hot peppers, so they're in here, too. You'll love it!

                  Burgundy-Style Rabbit, My Way
                  The “My Way” in the title concerns the several peppers in the recipe (which are VERY Creole). Burgundians wouldn¹t make it so spicy, but we like it like that!
                  makes 6 servings
                  6 ounces red onion finely chopped
                  6 ounces green pepper finely chopped
                  6 ounces celery finely chopped
                  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
                  1 3-pound rabbit cut into 6 pieces
                  ¾ cup flour
                  2 ½ teaspoons sea salt
                  ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                  ¼ teaspoon cayenne
                  ¼ teaspoon mace
                  1 cup chicken stock
                  ½ cup Dijon mustard
                  1 teaspoon crushed brown mustard seed
                  2 cups red wine (such as Côtes du Rhône)
                  1 cup water
                  ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
                  1 teaspoon sea salt
                  ¼ cup Cognac
                  1 basket pearl onions

                  1. Dredge rabbit pieces in flour mixture. Heat the olive oil in a deep-sided sauté pan. Sear rabbit on all sides to brown very well. Remove from pan and keep warm.
                  2. Sauté vegetables in the same oil until soft.

                  3. Blend the mustard and crushed seeds into the chicken stock. Add all the liquid to the pan. Add the salt and crushed red pepper. Return the rabbit to the pan. Cover tightly and allow to braise for 1 hour, or until very tender.

                  4. Remove rabbit from pan. Raise heat and cook liquid down to one half. Purée vegetables in sauce in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

                  5. Return sauce to pan and add ¼ cup cognac. Add 1 basket of pearl onions (peeled and trimmed) and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until onions are tender. Return rabbit pieces to sauce to reheat and coat well with the sauce.

                  Serve with buttered noodles or mashed potatoes to sop up all the delicious sauce.
                  Wine Tip: I like to serve a luscious red Burgundy with this, such as a Nuits-St. George.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    this sounds like a winner! anything with wine and peppers is good for us.

                  2. I really like rabbit--we grew our own when I was a kid. It is super lean and a super efficient form of protein; the environmental/raising costs are very low compared to other meats, if you want encouragement to eat more bunny.

                    I think you got some good reccs for braising, but may I suggest my family's favorite preparation: Fried Rabbit. We fry it the same way as my mother fries chicken--let me know if you want a recipe, but I think any shallow-fried chicken recipe will work. Maybe the deep fried versions will work, too; I have never tried them, being happy with the regular version.

                    Man, now I want some!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dct

                      Agreed. My family also raised rabbit when I was young, at one time we had upwards of 700 of the furry little dinners.
                      My mother would do rabbit exactly like she did chicken, marinate in lightly salted milk, roll in seasoned flour or finely crushed bread crumbs, and a quick fry in vegetable oil. My father varied this by frying in bacon grease.

                      1. re: hannaone

                        All hail bacon fat! These all sound really good. In my husband's excited state he bought two rabbits. We'll have round two later this week. Now to choose...

                    2. Rabbit is a traditional ingredient in paella. I think that would be spectacular.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sarah galvin

                        It is. With Spanish Chorizo of course. Rabbit Paprikas is also a traditional and wonderful way of preparing it. In the states the most common place to get it is at Amish/Mennonite markets.

                      2. mince it and make Bunny Burgers.

                        **nostalgic sigh**

                        1. i have had the classic French preparation of rabbit in mustard sauce, the recipe was in Saveur several years ago. It was quite fine. We do have a local rabbit farmer and I made a rabit terrine for a Slow Foods meeting a couple of years ago using a recipe from Bouchon. It was excellent.

                          1. Now that you've receieved enough advice on technique, I need only chime in with flavour suggestions! For braising, crush two handfuls of seedless grapes, and about the same volume whole grapes, a few sprigs of tarragon, and white wine. Serve over egg noodles. (The flour in which the pieces were dredged should be enough to thicken the braising liquid.)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hungry_pangolin

                              green, red, or black grapes? sounds light and lovely.

                              1. re: dogthis

                                I've used both red and green grapes, depending on what looked better that particular day. It's heavier than what you might think, but wonderfully flavourful.

                                I should add: for the starch, I've often used, instead of egg noodles, basmati rice with raw egg yolk mixed in once it hits the plate (a Persian thing an old roommate taught me), on the side rather than beneath the rabbit.

                                Just to be clear: brown the dredged rabbit in olive oil. Remove from pan. Add crushed grapes and bruised tarragon sprigs. Add white wine. Add whole grpaes. Place rabbit pieces in pan. Put in low oven (325F) to braise. Or, depending on the pan, you might want ot move everything to a casserole dish for the oven braising. So easy. So good.

                                EDIT: Can't believe that I forgot this: I use a bit of diced onion and minced garlic before the crushed grapes. Not a lot. Perhaps1/2-2/3 cup for four rabit rear legs. One small minced glove garlic.

                                BTW, this recipe is good for chicken legs, as well.

                            2. I should also note that rabbit liver is hands down the finest liver (even over calf liver, in my opinion). So be sure to get rabbit with its giblets....

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Karl S

                                Unfortunately, for those whom I feed, no liver for them. That's the cook's treat, seared with a bit of salt, pepper, and rosemary, on a toasted slice of baguette, washed down with a nice glass of vino.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Ohhhh! I love the liver. Growing up my mom would make chicken livers dredged in flour, s&p, and rosemary. The first time we found rabbit, it had the liver and I (the cook) gobbled it up for myself. A few delicious morsels that took me back to my childhood, only better.

                                2. Julia does a good braised rabbit and leek casserole in '....& Company". She tops it with an herbed biscuit topping. So very good.


                                  1. I recently made Braised Rabbit with White Wine, Shallots, Rosemary, and Cream from "Roast Chicken and Other Stories" by Simon Hopkinson for Cookbook of the Month and reported on it here, with photos: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50516...

                                    It was the first time I'd ever cooked rabbit and wasn't completely sold on it (partially because of the expense), but the sauce was marvelous and it's a recipe I'd definitely make again--although probably with chicken thighs.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      the 'sauce' is one of the best parts of Julia's dish....Very rich and flavorful