Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
Rabbit as a Foodstuff
Rabbit is one of the leanest meats you can eat. It is leaner even than chicken, which although good news in terms of fat content, does mean that rabbit has to be cooked long and slow if it is not going to be served tough, dry and unpalatable. There are three recipe ideas featured on this page, all of which take several hours to prepare from start to finish but more than repay your patience by ensuring your rabbit meat is served tasty and tender. A lot of the cooking time is also hands-off, allowing you to get on with other things as your rabbit slowly cooks to perfection.
Do note also that the rabbits in the following recipes are wild rabbits and slightly fattier, farmed rabbits will not require quite the same length of time to cook.
How to Clean and Skin a Rabbit
The rabbits featured in the recipes on this page were all bought from a local butcher's shop, already cleaned, skinned and frozen. This takes a great deal of work out of the process of preparing rabbits for cooking but it is essential to know they must be defrosted in full before they are cooked and the steps below should be adhered to in all instances.
If on the other hand you have shot the rabbit yourself or have been given one uncleaned, you will need to know how to undertake the process of skinning it, cleaning it and otherwise preparing it for the pot. The short video below (around three minutes) details this process very effectively from start to finish.
How to Defrost and Clean a Frozen Rabbit for Cooking
- Take the rabbit from the freezer and remove all packaging. If the packaging is stuck to the rabbit, don't worry: you can partly defrost the rabbit and it will easily peel free.
- Lay the rabbit in a large, deep dish and place the dish on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination. Leave to defrost for twenty-four hours, not forgetting to remove the wrapping after a few hours, where applicable.
- When the rabbit is defrosted, lay the dish in your sink and run cold water on it. Wash the rabbit, taking care to remove any remaining traces of fur or loose bits of skin.
- Lay plenty of kitchen paper on a chopping board and sit the rabbit on top. Pat the top dry with more kitchen paper.
- Discard the kitchen paper and the rabbit is now ready for the next stage of the particular recipe's preparation.
Quick Rabbit Poll!
How to Chop a Rabbit in to Portions for Cooking
There are any number of ways in which it is possible to chop and/or prepare a rabbit for cooking. The following method, however, is not only perfectly suited to the relevant recipes on this page, but it is also incredibly quick and easy to do. A sharp, sturdy knife can be used for this job but a Chinese style cleaver makes the process even easier.
- Begin by removing the forelegs. They are attached to the main body only by flesh, muscle and sinew, no bone. Simply ease them away from the body one at a time and cut them free.
- The hind legs are where you will find most of the meat on a rabbit and they should be removed next. Holding one leg at a time, cut through the flesh all around where the leg joins the body to expose the ball joint. Simply bend back in the opposite from natural direction and the leg will pop free.
- The rib cage and upper body of the rabbit contains virtually no meat but should still be included in many recipes to help flavour the stock. Chop this off as the next step.
- The saddle of the rabbit should now be chopped in half across the way and the procedure is complete.
Rabbit and Pork Pie with Bell Peppers Recipe
Read More From Delishably
Rabbit pie is one of the most popular ways of preparing and serving rabbit. While rabbit and mutton or lamb pie may be more popular, this recipe for rabbit and pork pie with the unusual addition of bell peppers proved to be delicious. If you can't get pork ribs, try using pork chops with the bone in, or even at a push, pork belly, as the fat is the vital component to help keep the rabbit moist.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 30 min
5 hours 30 min
- 1 whole rabbit, prepared as above
- 4 tbsp plain/all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling pastry
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3oz butter, plus extra for mash and carrots
- ½ lb king sized pork ribs, or similarly fatty pork with bone in
- 1 large carrot, washed, topped, tailed and roughly chopped
- 1 stick celery, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 3 pints fresh chicken stock
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- ½ green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 2 closed cup mushrooms, sliced
- ½ lb puff pastry
- 4 large starchy, floury potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 12 Chantenay carrots
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander leaf/cilantro
- beaten egg for glazing pastry
How to Make a Rabbit Pie: Stage One
- Put the butter in to a large stew pot and on to a gentle heat to melt. Put the flour into a large bowl and season.
- Put the rabbit portions into the flour. With your weaker hand, tilt the bowl and fold the pieces through the flour with a wooden spoon, just as if you were baking. Stop when the rabbit pieces are evenly coated with the flour.
- The rabbit pieces will have to be browned in two batches—unless you have a very large stew pot - as they must be laid into the pot in a single layer. Use cooking tongs to lift the pieces one at a time, shake off the excess flour and lay them carefully in the pot. Cook for two minutes, turn and cook for two minutes more. Remove temporarily to a deep holding plate.
- Brown the pork in the same way and remove to the plate with the rabbit pieces.
- Add the vegetables to the pot and sautee for a couple of minutes. Add the herbs before returning the rabbit and pork to the pot and season. Pour in the chicken stock and—if necessary—add enough boiling water to ensure the rabbit is completely covered. Bring to a simmer, add the lid and simmer as gently as possible for three hours.
- Turn off the heat. Use a large slotted spoon to remove the rabbit and pork to a deep plate and cover for an hour to cool.
- Put your oven on to preheat to 220C/450F. Use your hands to pick the rabbit meat from the bones in clumps and lay in a separate bowl. Take your time doing this as and be gentle, as there are a lot of small bones in a rabbit which you do not want included in your pie. If using wild rabbits, also be on the lookout for leadshot. Do the same with the pork.
How to Make a Rabbit Pie: Stage Two
- Mix the meat with the bell peppers and mushrooms. Lay in a 10" by 7" pie dish and ladle in enough stock from the pot to half cover.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangle about 11" by 8". Carefully lay on the pie dish and crimp around the edges.
- Glaze the pie with the beaten egg and cut a steam vent in the centre. Put the pie into the preheated oven for thirty-five to forty minutes, until the pastry is beautifully risen and golden.
- When the pie has been on for twenty minutes, add the chopped potatoes to a pot with plenty cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for twenty minutes or so until soft.
- Just before the pie is ready, add the Chantenay carrots to a pot of salted water and bring to a simmer for fifteen minutes.
- Remove the pie from the oven and set aside to rest. When the potatoes are ready, drain through a colander and return to the empty pot to steam and dry out for five minutes. Add a little butter and mash with a hand masher. Drain the carrots and return to the pot with some butter and the chopped coriander/cilantro.
- Quarter the pie crust and lift carefully with a spatula to a holding plate. Divide the rabbit and vegetables between four serving plates with a slotted spoon. Lay the pastry on top before adding the carrots and mash.
Roast Rabbit Saddle With Mushroom Cream Sauce
Roasting rabbit is the riskiest and probably least recommended way of cooking it. Opinions vary hugely as to how it should be achieved to best effect and many recipes will leave the rabbit incredibly dry and tough. This rabbit portion was roasted only as a means of using up the saddle of the rabbit from which the legs were made into a rabbit stew to serve one person. It did work well but it is vital to monitor the rabbit in the latter stages of cooking and catch it just when the meat is at its most tender. A mere ten minutes either way can spell disaster. It is recommended therefore that if you are cooking rabbit for the first time—and especially if you are to be tasting it for the first time!—don't roast it. Go for the stew/pie instead.
Note that the bacon used in this recipe is regular bacon in the USA and what is known as smoked streaky bacon in the UK. Standard British back bacon is not suitable for using in this dish as it is not fatty enough and does not provide the required moistening juices.
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 3 hours
Ready in: 3 hours 15 min
Yields: One serving
- 1 whole rabbit saddle
- 2oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing cooking dish
- 6 slices of bacon (smoked streaky bacon)
- black pepper
- 5 baby new potatoes, or as desired
- ½ small head of broccoli, broken into florets
- 3 tbsp double/heavy cream
- 2 small closed cup mushrooms, sliced
How to Roast a Rabbit Saddle
- Put your oven on to 150C/300F. Wash the rabbit saddle and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
- Lay six slices of bacon (smoked streaky bacon) side by side on a chopping board. Rub the butter over the top of the rabbit saddle with your hands. Season with black pepper only as all the salt required will come from the bacon. Lay the saddle top side down in the centre of the bacon strips. Carefully wrap the bacon strips around the rabbit.
- Lightly grease a deep ovenproof dish with butter. Sit the rabbit in the dish backbone side up and cover with tinfoil.
- Put it in the oven for two hours.
- Put the potatoes, skin on, into a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour. Drain, return to the pot, cover and leave to cool.
- After the two hours are up, remove the rabbit from the oven and carefully lift off the tinfoil. Use a metal skewer to test for tenderness. If necessary, re-cover and return to the oven for ten more minutes and test again. The rabbit saddle in this instance took two hours and twenty minutes.
- Sit the rabbit aside to rest for half an hour.
- The broccoli florets should be added to boiling salted water and simmered for ten minutes before being drained.
- Peel the skin from the potatoes with your fingers and deep fry in hot oil for five or six minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Peel the bacon from the rabbit saddle and pick the flesh from the bones in clumps.
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan and put it on a gentle heat. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer for a couple of minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, plate the rabbit, bacon, potatoes and broccoli. Pour the hot sauce over the rabbit immediately before service.
Rabbit, Lamb and Root Vegetable Stew Recipe
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 4 hours
Ready in: 4 hours 30 min
Yields: Two generous portions
- 1 whole rabbit, portioned as described above
- 4 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper
- 3oz butter
- ½ lb diced shoulder of lamb
- 1 stick of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 3 small carrots, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 6 small shallots, peeled
- 3 pints fresh chicken stock
- 1 small Swede turnip/rutabaga, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 large starchy/floury potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 10" very fresh French baguette, sliced
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley to garnish
How to Make Rabbit Stew: Stage One
- Put the flour in a large bowl and season. Add the rabbit pieces and stir carefully through the flour to coat evenly.
- Melt the butter in a large stew pot and add the rabbit pieces in two batches to brown for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.
- Toss the lamb pieces in the flour and again brown and seal evenly in the butter. Add to the plate with the rabbit.
- Put the celery, carrots and shallots into the pot and sautee for a couple of minutes.
How to Make Rabbit Stew: Stage Two
- Re-add the rabbit and lamb to the pot. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to boiling point. Put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to achieve as gentle a simmer as possible for three hours.
- Carefully lift all the pieces of rabbit and lamb from the pot with a large slotted spoon to a plate. Cover and leave for half an hour to cool.
- Immediately after the rabbit and lamb are removed from the pot, the potatoes and Swede turnip/rutabaga should be added. Bring back to a simmer and cook uncovered for forty-five minutes.
- When the rabbit and lamb have been resting for the half-hour, the meat should carefully be plucked from the bones of the rabbit by hand. Try to keep it in fairly large pieces but do be sure to get rid of any small bones.
- When the vegetables have been simmering for forty-five minutes, turn off the heat under the pot. Put the rabbit and lamb back into the stew and stir well. Leave for ten minutes for the meat to come back up in temperature in the residual heat.
- Ladle the stew into a large serving dish and garnish with chopped parsley. Take to the table with the freshly sliced bread.
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© 2013 Gordon Hamilton