Since spring arrived I have had lots of tasks keeping me busy. The pace of the year always picks up once people start planning lots of activities outside in the warmer weather. I wanted to do something to celebrate the change from winter to spring. Most choose to celebrate the arrival of spring with hard-boiled eggs and Easter egg hunts. I wanted to do something different. Rabbits are also a symbol of spring fertility. Rabbits come out of their winter holes in late winter to early spring to mate… err… like rabbits. I figured eating some rabbit would be an excellent way to commemorate this time of year.
I have never eaten nor cooked rabbit before. I did a little bit of research but decided Fanny Farmer’s advice should be enough for a first shot at this new type of meat. “The meat tastes very much like chicken, a little more dense and dry, and it would be worthwhile experimenting by substituting rabbit in some of the chicken recipes.” So, I took my basic baked chicken recipe and adjusted it to bake a whole rabbit.
I started by purchasing a frozen whole rabbit from my local specialty meat store. It took longer than a day for the rabbit to defrost, so if you do get one frozen plan a few days in advance. I used some basic spices that pair well with rabbit: thyme, rosemary, sage, and allspice berries, but feel free to experiment with others.
Most rabbit recipes have you cut the meat into serving sized pieces before cooking. I ended up cooking the whole rabbit and then used the same butchering methods after the meat was baked. I recommend that you look at some online videos or images that explain dividing up a whole rabbit. I found it is less complicated than carving a turkey or whole chicken.
While baking, it is important to keep the moisture in the pan because the meat is low in fat and is stringy. To me the meat tasted a lot like chicken and did make an excellent substitute.
Someday I would like to try Jamie Oliver’s recipe for 12 hour Rabbit Ragu. It is a more complicated recipe but it must be an awesome dish if Jamie rips his trousers from cooking excitement.
1 whole rabbit
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 whole allspice berries
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove any organs from inside the rabbit. Rinse the rabbit and place it inside a baking dish. Mix all of the desired spices in a bowl and rub them onto the rabbit along with the salt and pepper. Put the allspice berries in with the rabbit. Dot or rub the rabbit with the desired amount of butter. Place a lid over the baking dish and place it in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes until the meat reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the rabbit into individual serving sized pieces.