Rabbit is a popular food on all continents and in many cultures around the world. Yet, Americans still think of rabbits just as cute pets. The gulf between European and American consumption is astronomical. However, the tide is changing! Many fine restaurants across the country have added rabbit entree’s to their menu and are garnering rave reviews.
Domestic rabbit, known as the ‘elite meat’, is all white, fine-grained and mild, with no gristle or fat. Most aficionados agree it does not “taste like chicken”, but when cooked correctly is more tender and flavorful than its barnyard companions! Of all meats readily available, rabbit is the most nutritious; being higher in protein, lower in fat and calories, cholesterol, uric acid and sodium (U.S.D.A. circular #549). Rabbit meets all human amino acid requirements and is high in Omega-3 fatty acids as well. It is easily digested and recommended by physicians for ones with stomach disorders, the elderly and heart disease patients.
And, a little goes a long way. Years ago, the U.S. Navy realized this when they served rabbit to sailors and found that a 6-ounce portion was as filling as 12-ounces of chicken! Rabbit is ideal during hot summer months because it does not contain heating properties like most other meats.
Rabbit is one of the most versatile meats in the world. It can be dressed up for special occasions or simply added to your favorite soup. It can be used fresh, cured, smoked, soured, roasted, barbecued and substituted for any recipe calling for veal or poultry. In fact, rabbit meat compares very favorably with veal, but at half the price. A good fryer size would be 2 to 2-1/2 pounds; larger ones are best roasted, stewed or ground. Many cooks, including myself, prefer 4-6 month old roasters for a richer, fuller flavor and more beautiful grain. No matter what age, rabbit should be cooked thoroughly in all recipes.
Due to the low fat, delicate nature, rabbit meat benefits from lower temperatures and longer cooking times. Baking at 250 degrees F for 1-1/2 hours, or until done, is a good average for roasting. It can also be boiled for 5 minutes and then simmered until well done. For proper marinating, turn the meat periodically.
Butcher shops may carry domestic rabbit meat, as do some health/whole food stores. For recipes, the A.R.B.A. publishes the most complete rabbit cookbook in the world.
So catch the wave! Taste for yourself why everyone is getting into the rabbit habit. Bon Appetit!
2/2006- by Krystal Beers