It’s been years since I had rabbit. Quite honestly I didn’t remember much about it. My memory of it was neither good nor bad. My family raised a few rabbits for meat for a while during my childhood, but it wasn’t something we had frequently. We started off with a small breeding stock and it takes time (even for rabbits) to build up enough stock to eat. So, while I vividly remember the butchering day I was deemed old enough to help with, I don’t really remember what rabbit tasted like.
It may be because rabbit tastes, well, a lot like chicken. It’s not exactly the same, it has a different complex flavor, but I’m pretty sure you could feed it to someone and they would assume they were eating chicken even if it did taste sorta funny. The meat is similar to chicken breast, fine in texture, white in color, but the flavor is more like chicken thigh with a strong complex, meaty taste. Rabbit is low in fat so make sure it doesn’t over cook. Using the crockpot, as in the recipe below, was nice because the moisture doesn’t escape and you don’t have to worry about overcooking it. I think this might be the reason so many rabbit recipes are for stews. There were also references to frying it just like you would a chicken; I think I’ll try it that way next.
There is a warning here. If you have any issue with the thought of eating a cute bunny or anything that reminds you to much that you are eating a once living animal, you might want to make sure your rabbit is cut-up before you buy it. My rabbit came from the Saturday Market and the farmer warned me that it was whole rabbit, which I knew and told her I was okay with it. She said she has to warn people as it’s led to some issues before. I’m okay with the whole meat comes from animals concept. I’ve assisted in the butchering process before. I figured it would be like cutting up a chicken, how hard could it be?
Rabbit is not chicken. I faltered when I took it out of the bag. I almost changed my mind but what were my options at that point? Throw it away? The animal had died to provide food; the least I could do was eat it. You see, rabbit flesh is pink and a rabbit is a mammal. The overall effect is…fetal. Perhaps frozen rabbit from the grocery store is different, but buying it fresh from the farmer puts you right in touch with what you are eating. Meat becomes real, not an abstract concept. I’m not generally squeamish, I’m the one my friends call to empty mouse traps and kill spiders, but there you have it.
Rabbit casserole is adapted from a recipe called Poacher’s Pie in Celtic Folklore Cooking by Joanne Asala. I recommend this cookbook if you have an interest in Celtic cooking. Especially if you like to sit down and read cookbooks like I do. There are as many stories, myths, and bits of history in there as there are recipes.
2 bay leaves
2 fresh rosemary sprigs about 3” each
1 pound potatoes cut bite size
½ medium onion, chopped
½ pound carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
Salt & pepper
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, leaf only
2 fresh rosemary sprigs about 3” each
5 thick bacon strips, diced
1 2-3 pound cut-up rabbit
2 cups mushrooms
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Spray the inside of a large slow cooker* with the nonstick spray. Layer the ingredients into the slow cooker stopping when you get to the bacon. Cover and turn to high.
Cook the bacon in a frying pan. When the bacon’s done, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the ingredients in the slow cooker. Add the rabbit to the bacon grease and brown all pieces on both sides. Remove the rabbit from the frying pan and add it to the slow cooker. Top the rabbit with the mushrooms and vinegar.
Cooking time will vary, but will probably take about three hours. It will be done when the potatoes are fork tender.
*You could do this in the oven in a roasting pan. Set oven to 350° and cook for about 2 hours.
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