Hop to it

You don’t need to be adventurous to put rabbit on menu

09/01/2010 12:00 AM

06/14/2011 11:08 AM

I admit that I let my curiosity get the better of me this time.

I had walked past the gentleman selling rabbit meat at the Forest Acres Farmers Market twice, not sure if it was something I’d like to attempt to cook in my kitchen.

I’ve had rabbit before, but it was prepared and served to me. I didn’t have to do it myself.

Curiosity, however, couldn’t deter me from stopping on the third occasion and asking Byron Hanna some questions about his product.

Like, how does one prepare rabbit?

Simply put, treat the meat as you would treat chicken.

Rabbit is all white meat, relatively low in calories (about 167 calories per 3-ounce serving compared to skinless chicken breast at 87, beef tenderloin at 288 or cured pork bacon at 122) and high in protein (24.7g for rabbit vs. 18g for chicken, 20g for beef tenderloin or 8 for bacon).

So, I bought one.

The rabbit came packaged just like a chicken.

After a night spent defrosting the rabbit in the refrigerator, I got out my handy kitchen shears and my sharpest knife and began my attempt to artfully butcher the animal. It was a bit tricky seeing as how I’d cut up only chickens in the past, and my butchering skills are almost nonexistent. The jointing threw me just a bit. Researching for this piece, however, I came across some YouTube videos that make everything much simpler, just search “ferretWhitehead” on YouTube or go to the link with this column at thestate.com/living.

I decided to try an oven-baked, Dijon-mustard-and-panko-coated rabbit recipe.

The consensus of my family? Half thought it tasted similar to chicken; half thought it was closer to pork.

Me? I think I’ll try it again. Maybe in a stew.

SOURCE: Calorie count and protein numbers from caloriecount.about.com

Country style rabbit

4-6 servings

1 young rabbit, cut up

1 onion, sliced paper thin

1 sprig of thyme

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dry white wine

Sliced mushrooms, to taste

1/2 cup butter or bacon fat

1 carrot, sliced paper thin

2 leaves rosemary

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons flour

Brown rabbit in small amount of butter and transfer to baking dish.

Add onion, carrot, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf to skillet in which meat was browned, saute 1-2 minutes. Add broth and wine, stir and remove any bits of crusty flavor; pour sauce over rabbit. Cover. Bake at 325 degrees in oven for 1 hour or until rabbit is tender, transfer to hot serving dish.

Add mushrooms to sauce; simmer until done. Thicken sauce with flour and 2 tablespoons butter. Serve gravy with meat.


Rabbit ragu with pappardelle

6 servings

1 rabbit (2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces, bone in

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 anchovy (optional)

1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

Pinch of red-pepper flakes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup seeded, chopped tomatoes

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs thyme

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

12 ounces pappardelle

Pecorino Romano cheese, for grating

Pat rabbit pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil and brown rabbit pieces, working in batches if needed to avoid crowding. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add anchovy (if you choose) and mash it until it dissolves into the oil. Add onion, carrots and celery, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the pepper flakes, garlic and tomato paste, stirring for another minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine, turn the heat to high and boil to burn off the alcohol, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, bay leaves and thyme. Return rabbit pieces to the pot, spacing them evenly so they are partly covered by the liquid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the rabbit is falling off the bone, about 2 hours. Turn the pieces at least once.

Turn off the heat and discard thyme and bay leaves. Remove rabbit from the sauce and let cool; then pull the meat from the bones. Shred some pieces and leave others large. Return meat to the pan and simmer the sauce until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in butter, piece by piece. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pappardelle until al dente. Before draining, save a cup of the pasta water. Toss pappardelle with the sauce over low heat, adding pasta water as necessary if the sauce is too thick. Divide among pasta bowls and top with the grated cheese.

Randy Kennedy, The New York Times

Panko- and mustard-crusted Rabbit

8 servings

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup Dijon mustard

2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, chopped

2 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) fryer rabbits, cut into 8 serving pieces, rinsed and patted dry

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. In medium bowl, whisk together butter and mustard. In large bowl, toss together panko and thyme.

Season rabbit pieces with salt and pepper. Using pastry brush, brush 1 piece generously with mustard mixture; then dip in panko mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces, using 2 baking sheets. Drizzle pieces with olive oil.

Bake 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake until crust is golden and juices run clear when meat is pricked with fork, about 10 minutes more.


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