I was going to use today’s post to review a beanless chocolate chili recipe I tried, but instead I bumped that till later this week to talk about my first attempt at rabbit. I was pretty nervous. Not only had I never cooked rabbit, but to the best of my knowledge I had never eaten rabbit. A lot of cooking for me is pretty intuitive. When I look at a list of ingredients, I have a rough idea of how something will taste, as long as the ingredients are familiar. Start throwing in unknown ingredients or odd combinations of ingredients and I feel a little like I’ve lost my sense of smell or taste because I just don’t know what’s going to happen. That is a little intimidating for me. Fortunately for me, the recipe turned out to be more of a happy fluffy bunny recipe than a scary man-eating Monte Python (with big sharp pointy teeth) bunny recipe. So cook on — and don’t fear the rabbit!
If I’ve never tried something before, I will find a recipe that sounds good and follow the directions pretty closely, maybe adding or subtracting minor stuff that I think would go. That’s exactly what I did here. The trouble I had was finding a recipe that sounded good to me and didn’t have a sauce that was wine based (wine not being paleo friendly). I was beginning to wonder if there was something about alcohol that made rabbit more palatable —- or if every rabbit chef just liked to drink. Eventually I found one on allrecipes.com that was completely different from the rest. This one uses green and red bell peppers and coconut milk for creaminess. If that doesn’t sound paleo, I don’t know what does! The result was a creamy, naturally sweet sauce. I was afraid the bell pepper would be very prevalent, but the long simmer time really mellowed everything out. Here’s the link to the original recipe to give the recipe posgter their props. The version of the recipe that I actually used, with my tweaks and comments, is below.
For those that have never had it, at the risk of sounding completely cliché (not that that usually stops me), rabbit tastes a lot like chicken. A friend on Facebook says that properly prepared rabbit tastes like a cross between chicken and pork chop. That’s a pretty fair comparison in my (limited) experience. As a matter of fact, the sauce for this would taste good with chicken as well, and I will may that in the future.
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 (2 pound) rabbit*, cleaned and cut into pieces (Need to know how to cut up a rabbit? I found this video to be helpful — although my rabbit was much smaller than his and I didn’t have enough breast meat to merit cooking the breast. Also, my rear legs were small enough that I didn’t cut them apart).
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 bird’s eye chile, seeded and minced (I had no idea what this was, so I used a serrano pepper and had good results)
1 large tomato – peeled, seeded and chopped (I threw mine in seeds and all. Feel free to try a can of diced tomatoes, drained).
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt (If you brine the rabbit first, you may want to reduce this or omit it until the end and then salt to taste.)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can of coconut milk – I only used the “cream” from the top of the can, so don’t shake it up.
1) Although not included in the original recipe, after cutting the rabbit into pieces I soaked it in a brine solution (4 cups water and 1/4 cup salt) in a pan in the fridge for a couple of hours. I was concerned about rabbit being tough and after spending the morning reading my new “All About Roasting” cookbook I wanted to give it a try. Feel free to consider this step optional. Before cooking, pat rabbit pieces dry with a paper towel.
2.) Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the rabbit pieces until browned on the outside. (Don’t over-cook, particularly if the rabbit is small. This thing has a long simmer time and will fully cook through. I barely browned mine). Transfer the rabbit pieces into a dutch oven. To the oil still in the skillet, add the onion, garlic, green pepper, red pepper and chile pepper; cook and stir until onion is translucent. Transfer to contents to the pan with the rabbit pieces. I dumped any residual oi in as well — no point wasting the coconut oil!
3.) Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, salt and pepper to the saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for about 2 hours. (FYI: When I put this in the pan, the liquid covered the rabbit, but some of the veggies stuck out of the liquid. I was skeptical that this would be enough liquid to last through a 2 hour simmer. Do not fear! The veggies will shrink up and everything will produce a little extra liquid. It worked out perfectly). Remove the rabbit pieces with a slotted spoon, and keep warm. Turn the heat up to medium-high under the pan, and boil the liquid until it has reduced by half (This took about 20 to 30 minutes on my stove).
4.) Add the coconut cream from the top of the can, leaving the whey-like component below the cream behind. Stir to mix. Return the rabbit pieces to the pan. Cook, stirring gently, until heated through. Serve.
*The rabbit I bought was pretty small (1.5 pounds) but it looked plenty big for several meals for just me. If you’ve never made rabbit before, you should know that there is next to no meat on the ribs of a domestic rabbit (I don’t know if wild rabbits are any meatier), so you will be throwing away (or at least not eating) the whole rib cage section — however, you could definitely save it to boil with a batch of broth. As a result, you may want to buy more than you think you may need based only on the weight. The above recipe makes enough sauce for a 2 lb +/- rabbit. Plan to make more if increasing the amount of meat significantly.