Every time I think of rabbit I can’t help but think about Elmer Fudd and “dag nabbit silly rabbit!” Poor old Elmer. He never would catch Bugs Bunny; a good thing, too, because we never would have seen Bugs anymore. Bugs was always too crafty for poor blundering Elmer. Fortunately, this rabbit wasn’t too crafty because we had it for dinner and it was delicious.
Rabbits are cute little critters, aren’t they? Those lovable long ears, wiggly little nose and fluffy cotton tail simply endear them to us. So much so that we Americans have a fixation on the cuteness of bunny rabbits. They appear in movies, i.e. Harvey, the Pooka. They are lovable cartoon characters, i.e. Bugs Bunny. They are part of the Easter Celebration with the Easter Bunny and they are pets for our children. There simply is no limit to the cuteness of the rabbit. This probably explains why you don’t see rabbit as a regular food source in the American diet, unlike European cuisine where rabbit is a mainstay. That’s too bad, too because rabbit is a lean protein that’s low in cholesterol. In fact, it may also just be the most nutritious meat there is. Because it is lean, it has more protein and fewer calories. Like grass-fed beef, it also has very high levels of omega-3’s and other good fats. Given rabbits multiply like rabbits, it’s also a sustainable meat source. As for its taste, rabbit tastes very much like poultry or veal so it is very versatile.
When it comes to food, I’m not that squeamish and the cuteness factor simply doesn’t enter into the equation. Rabbit is good food and good for you. You owe it to yourself to try rabbit as a meat source. You will be surprised at the juicy, tender flesh and its nice delicate flavor. Try this recipe and let us know if rabbit is for you.
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- a 3-pound rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups dry white wine
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (homemade broth is best)
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Pat rabbit pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. In a deep large heavy skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Brown rabbit pieces on all sides in 2 batches. Transfer rabbit as browned to a large bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet then add onions to skillet and sweat until softened, roughly 2 – 3 minutes.
Add wine and boil until liquid is reduced by about half.
Return rabbit to skillet and add broth.
Simmer rabbit, covered, until tender, roughly 40 minutes.
Transfer rabbit to cleaned large bowl and boil sauce until reduced to about 2 cups. In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup sauce and mustard and whisk mixture into sauce. In another small bowl stir cornstarch into 1 tablespoon cold water and whisk into sauce.
Simmer sauce, whisking, 3 minutes, or until thickened. Whisk in remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Return rabbit to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, turning rabbit to coat with sauce, until heated through.
When done, place a scoop of polenta in the middle of a plate. Place rabbit on top and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve and enjoy.