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Rabbit

All About Rabbit

All About Rabbit 

The rabbit is a small game animal of the hare family. Farmed rabbit meat is light and tastes like chicken; wild rabbit meat is also light but more gamey in flavour.

There is a wide choice of ingredients and seasonings that go well with rabbit. Fresh and dried fruits enhance the taste of rabbit particularly well.

Rabbit is often prepared with aromatic vegetables such as leeks or onions, as well as with mushrooms and cream sauce. Try adding fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano.


Tips and advice

  • Choose a rabbit with shiny, light pink flesh. The rabbit is almost always sold skinned and gutted.
  • If it is fresh and whole, choose a rabbit with a stain-free and very red liver, clear and visible kidneys and perfectly white surrounding fat.
  • A 2.5-kg (5½ lbs) rabbit can feed four to five people because little weight is lost in the cooking process.
  • Rabbits available on the market are generally sold fresh or frozen, whole or cut in pieces. Your Metro butcher can help you select the best cut for your rabbit recipe.
  • Avoid cooking rabbit that is still frozen or partially frozen. Always thaw first to guarantee uniform cooking.
  • Rabbit meat needs a little more care than other meat because its lean flesh is not protected by skin or fat and dries easily. Because of this, rabbit is often cooked in liquid, or coated with fat (barded) before cooking. When roasting or broiling rabbit, baste meat often to keep it moist.
  • To cut a whole rabbit, separate the four legs and cut the saddle, the fleshy part that goes from the bottom of the ribs to the tail, into two or three sections.
  • Rabbit can be marinated prior to cooking to tenderize the meat and give it more flavour.
  • Add small acidic fruits or sweet-and-sour sauces to the meat to lighten its gamey taste.

Expert Tip

Like chicken, rabbit can be prepared in various ways: braised, broiled, roasted or simmered.


Marinades

There are two types of marinades: dry and wet. Dry marinades enhance the flavour of the meat. Wet marinades, made with acidic ingredients like lemon juice, tenderize the meat.

Meat that has marinated for at least one hour is more flavourful and tender. The results are even more satisfying when the meat is allowed to marinate overnight. Do not exceed 24 hours, however; after that time, the marinade will begin to cook the meat.


Cooking methods

Roasted rabbit

1Brown onions and fresh herbs in a roasting pan.

2Sear rabbit meat on all sides.

3Sprinkle with seasoning and flour. Add a little liquid, wine or broth to the roasting pan.

4Place in a pre-heated 180°C (350°F) oven until desired doneness.

5Baste the meat often with its own juices to prevent drying.

6When cooking is complete, transfer meat to cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes; this will allow the fibres to expand and the juices to circulate for more uniform cooking.


Braised rabbit

Braising whole or sections of rabbit generally takes 2 hours per kilo of meat (1 hour per pound) in a 160°C (325°F) oven.

1In a lightly oiled pan, sear meat on all sides to seal in its juices for maximum flavour.

2Pour a sufficient amount of liquid to cover one quarter of the meat. The liquid can be wine, broth or a mixture of both.

3Add aromatic vegetables, onions, leeks, carrots and a bouquet garni.

4Cover and simmer on the stovetop or transfer to a 160°C (325°F) oven until meat is tender. Season when cooking is almost complete.


Rabbit stew and rabbit cooked in sauce

This slow-cooking process works very well with rabbit.

1Coat meat cubes with a mixture of flour, salt and pepper.

2In a large, lightly oiled casserole, brown pieces on all sides.

3Add onions or other aromatic vegetables; mix well.

4Add enough liquid to cover the meat.

5Cover and simmer over medium heat or in a 160°C (325°F) oven for about 1½ hours.

6Add sliced vegetables (potatoes, carrots and mushrooms) 30 minutes before cooking is complete.


How to know when rabbit is done

Rabbit generally takes 60 to 90 minutes to cook at a moderate oven temperature of 160°C (325°F). For medium-done meat, cook to an internal temperature of 70˚C (160˚F).

Nutritional value

Rabbit is rich in protein, vitamin B, calcium and potassium. It is also a good source of iron and phosphorus.

Storage

Fresh rabbit can be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator. Fresh or cooked rabbit can also be frozen, but there will be some loss of taste.



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