Sick of chicken, beef and fish? Try Bugs Bunny.
My brother has recently moved from London, England, to San Francisco. The immediate benefit for me is that he was able to visit us for Easter. As we have in previous years, we forwent the traditional Easter lamb in favour of rabbit. When I talked to people about our Easter feast I was stunned by how many of them were revolted by the thought of eating bunny-meat.
Sustainable reasons for eating rabbit
Putting aside any notions that we somehow destroyed Easter by dining on its tasty mascot, rabbit is a very sustainable choice of meat. In much the same way that diversifying the choice of seafoods we eat to include smaller fish—like sardines and herring—is sustainable, rabbit has been popular in Italy for hundreds, if not thousands, of years because they are easy to raise, require minimal pasture and they breed like, well, rabbits.
Rabbit tastes like chicken... ish
Much in the colouring and texture of rabbit meat resembles chicken, as does the size and general anatomy, but to say that rabbit tastes like chicken would be a gross injustice to rabbit's strong, rich flavour. Certainly there are similarities—it's like saying turkey tastes like chicken—but at the end of the day (around dinner time) rabbit tastes like rabbit.
Rustic rabbit recipe
For some reason, rabbit often appears in stew pots (both in the cartoons and in real life), here's how we prepared ours:
Coniglio con fichi e spezie (Rabbit with figs and spices)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 rabbit cut into portions
2 red onions
1 large carrot
3 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs of rosemary
16–20 dried figs (halved)
2 cinnamon sticks
12 juniper berries
3/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
3 tsp cornstarch
1 dried red chili
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a casserole pot and brown the rabbit pieces on both sides. Remove pieces from pot and season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Gently cook the carrot and onions in the casserole until the onions are soft. Add the celery, garlic and rosemary and cook for a few minutes before adding the figs, cinnamon, juniper berries and wine. Bring to a boil until wine is reduced.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of cold water with the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Add the cornstarch solution and the stock to the vegetables and boil for a minute, stirring frequently. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the vegetables.
- Add the browned rabbit pieces and the chili and bring to a boil. Cover and cook in the oven until the rabbit is tender (about an hour).
N.B. At this stage we removed the meat from the bones (and the bones from the stew) before serving it to our guests.
We served the stew with some barbecued polenta and sautéed spring vegetables.
If Frank Pabst were to do an unsung heroes menu for land creatures, rabbit would definitely be on the list.