Roasted Rabbit

This recipe first appears in the Dec 2011-Jan 2012 Seasonal Table column I write for Flavor Magazine.

Roasted Rabbit, Braised Escarole, Cheesy Polenta & Roasted Carrots. Photo by Molly Peterson, mJm Photography, for Flavor Magazine.

Rabbit is intimidating for many people. Sure, it’s not as available as chicken but a growing number of farms (who often raise poultry) offer rabbits in our area. You can also find them through custom butcher shops. On a per pound basis, rabbit is more expensive  than chicken. But a 3-lb rabbit has more meat than a 3-lb chicken, or rather I should say, that a 3-lb rabbit has denser, more filling meat than a 3 lb-chicken.

Rabbit does not taste like chicken. Not even close. Sure it is a white meat with a lot of flavor, but it is dense and lean. Roast a young animal, braise an older one. Rabbit is both meaty and bony, muscle meat tightly attached to the bones. But if you like eating blue crab, you probably won’t mind all the bones in a rabbit.  When served in a restaurant, rabbit is often deboned and served as a pate, rolled, pulled, or in some other way where using a fork and a knife is breezy. In my home, we don’t mind using our fingers (mostly).

In this recipe, based on a classic French country dish, I use gin and juniper berries. But sometime I will use one of our  local whiskey or rye. Omit the juniper berries if you can’t find them. The mustard is used both for flavor and to help the meat keep moist.

And a bonus – it’s done in a hour: 5 minutes to prep, 50 to cook, 5 to cut up and plate. Cook the veggies while the rabbit is roasting.

Roasted Rabbit

SERVES 6

  • 1          tablespoon olive oil
  • 1          3 pound rabbit
  • 6          juniper berries
  • 6-10     sprigs of fresh thyme, to taste
  • 2          teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2          tablespoons gin (or local rye or whisky)
  • 6          tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 2          tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Smear an oven-safe dish just big enough to hold the rabbit with oil. In the body cavity, place juniper berries and thyme sprigs. Rub the rabbit with the gin and smear the side that’s facing up it with 3 tablespoons of mustard. Dot the rabbit with the cut-up butter. Sprinkle half of the thyme leaves
  3. Roast for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven. Carefully flip the rabbit, baste with accumulated liquid, smear the remaining mustard on the side now facing up and sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves.  Roast for another 35 minutes (for a total of 50 minutes). Baste with the accumulated pan juice of  few times.
  4. Cut up and serve hot.

Locavore Log: Rabbit (from Ethan Berry, Sperryville, VA) , herbs, butter

4 comments

  1. Trout Caviar says:

    Ah, that looks lovley, Sylvie! I love rabbit, too, and I guess I just don’t mind sorting through the bones. I’m surprised when people reject it as being too bony. A boned-out loin of wild rabbit, seared to medium rare, was one of the best pieces of meat I’ve ever eaten.

    Salut~ Brett

  2. Mike says:

    Sounds and looks wonderful. My parents use to raise rabbits, and every other farm animal imaginable, so as a child I grew up eating rabbit at least once every week and while I have not eaten rabbit in many, many years I still remember how much I liked it.

  3. Ed Matthews says:

    Yum! Rabbit is among my most favorite foods. When I was a kid, my grandmother would always make rabbit for me as a special treat. We dredge it in flour, brown it lightly, remove the rabbit and make a brown roux. Then comes water and the rabbit goes back in. We called it fried rabbit, but it is more smothered rabbit (étouffée).

    Sometimes when I do rabbit (or more often, pheasant), I also use gin, but I tend to deglaze the pan with it, using juniper berries for the dry rub.

    We serve a lot of rabbit at the restaurant but always off the bone, the loins as a roulade and the rest as a gratin. Americans are largely allergic to bones. Off the bone, rabbit sells like crazy. On the bone, not at all.

  4. Mike & Ed – you two certainly seem to be on the same page — debone the rabbit! And although I like bones, I decided to test your idea, and yes, Rabbit terrine (with the loins intact in the middle) is on the menu for this week-end. And only 2 guests out of 9 asked for an alternative…

    I am intrigued by your gratin Ed.

    Mike, I should have guessed you grew up on a farm: you know so much about growing food!

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