Cooking rabbit well can be a challenge because rabbit meat is high in connective tissue. Just last week I received an email from a woman whose husband had been out on a successful hunt. It was her first time attempting to cook rabbit and she requested some guidance. I was happy to share some of my tips on getting a tender and succulent rabbit dish with her and now with you.
The safest way to prepare rabbit for a tasty dinner is to stew or braise it. The fundamental difference between the two moist-heat methods is the size of what is being cooked. Braising is done with large pieces or hunks of meat, such as a shank or pot roast. While stewing is done with smaller, uniform pieces. In the coming weeks I will revisit braising more thoroughly.
Unfortunately, I have yet to go hunting this year and neither have I spotted any rabbits running around my backyard in Paris. Thus, this weekend I took a trip north of my home to Oakridge Acres Country Meat Store in Ayr to procure some rabbit meat. In this friendly family run store I found many types of ethically raised meats from local farms.
Stewed Rabbit with Potato
For a rabbit around 3 pounds
Liver, Kidney and Heart of the rabbit cut up in small pieces
Cooking Oil – Sunflower or Olive Oil
2 part Onion, Sliced
1 part Celery Stalks, Diced
1 part Carrot, Diced
1 part Potato, cut in Matchsticks
4 cups beef or vegetable broth (any meat stock or broth is preferable)
Salt and Pepper
Cut the rabbit into relatively equal serving size pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat oil to medium-high in a deep pan or pot and brown them. It is not necessary to cook the meat all the way through, rather you are looking to achieve a golden-brown colour for depth of flavour. Remove the pieces of meat from the oil and set aside in a warm place.
Add more oil to the pan and cook the onion, celery and carrot. Stir in the potato. When this is browned, add 4 cups of the broth; return the rabbit to the pan, bring it to a boil, add your chopped heart, liver and kidney. Once at a boil, cover and cook at low heat until tender, about 1 hour, adding a little more of the broth from time to time if needed.
It is important to use a tight fitting lid to keep the moisture in the pot. The heat is being transferred to the meat via the liquid and the steam, which breaks down the connective tissues resulting in tender meat.
To tell if the meat is done it should be soft to the touch, not spring back. It should easily pull away from the bone but not fall off it.
Canned diced tomatoes make a nice addition to the recipe. If adding them reduce the amount of broth you are using. If not using canned tomatoes try adding a splash of a vinegar of your choosing. This will help balance the flavours and brighten the end result.
Feel free to add any herbs you like such as parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme.
Note: If you are not comfortable eating the liver, kidney and heart save them in your freezer for someone that enjoys them, like me.