In most parts of the country, rabbit dishes are not as popular as other game animals. Big game, upland birds and waterfowl seem to be to quarry of choice for most American hunters. I suppose that doesn’t upset the rabbits all that much. I suspect they would rather hang out with their buddies than in your oven.
Cooked properly, rabbits are moist, delicate and meaty. You can substitute rabbit for just about any recipe that calls for chicken. As a rule, younger rabbits are better table fare than older ones. I’ve had the best luck braising cut-up rabbits, usually with some kind of wine. The following recipe is a good example.
Braised Rabbit with Pears
- 4 servings
- 2 young rabbits each cut into 6 to 8 pieces
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 3 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 firm slightly not-quite-ripe pears; skin removed, cored and halved
- 3 tablespoons chilled butter
- Season rabbit pieces and dust lightly with flour. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add rabbit pieces and brown each evenly.
- Add wine, broth, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, rosemary and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
- Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until rabbit pieces and tender and can be pulled away from the bone with little pressure.
- Add pears to the pan, cover and simmer for 30 minutes more.
- Remove rabbit and pears and arrange on plates. Remove bay leaves and rosemary from pan.
- Whisk in butter until melted and spoon sauce over rabbit.