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Rabbit

Also indexed as: Hare

Illustration

Preparation, uses, and tips

Rabbit can be substituted for chicken in many recipes.

Wash rabbit thoroughly in cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Rabbit should always be cooked until well done. For best results, use a meat thermometer inserted in the meatiest part of the rabbit. Internal temperatures should be as follows when the rabbit is done:

Breasts: 170°F (76.6°C)

Whole rabbit and other parts: 180°F (82.2°C)

To make a visual check to see if rabbit is done, pierce it with a fork. You should be able to insert the fork with ease, and the rabbit juices should run clear. Rabbit is thoroughly cooked when it is no longer pink inside.

To tenderize older rabbit or hare, place rabbit or hare in bowl. Pour 1 cup of vinegar over meat, then add enough vinegar to cover. Or marinate in a mixture of beer, garlic, and other spices. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Frying

In a plastic bag, mix together 1/2 cup (60g) flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add cut-up rabbit parts, a few at a time, and shake to coat. In a large frying pan, heat cooking oil to high temperature. Add rabbit and cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until rabbit is brown and fork tender.

Braising

Dredge cut-up rabbit in flour and spices. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat, and brown rabbit pieces on each side. Add stock, spices, and vegetables if desired. Cover and bake in the oven at 325°F (160°C), or simmer over low heat on stovetop burner for 1 hour or until meat is fork tender.

Simmering

Place cut-up rabbit in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add water to cover (2 to 2 1/2 quarts or liters), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (1 small onion; sliced, 1 bay leaf, and 3 celery tops may also be added for richer broth flavor, if desired). Cover and simmer about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until meat falls off bone. Remove rabbit from pan and cool. Separate meat from bones. Discard bones. Cut rabbit into desired size pieces.

Grilling

Rub rabbit parts with oil and spices. Place meat on prepared grill with rack about 8 inches (20cm) from heat source. Grill, turning frequently and basting with marinade until fork tender.

Microwaving

In a microwave-safe baking dish, arrange 1 cut-up rabbit in a single layer, with meatier parts toward the edge of the dish. Add broth, wine or water, spices, and vegetables. Cover and cook on High for 7 minutes, then on Low for 20 minutes, or until the rabbit is fork tender.

Buying and storing tips

Rabbit should have springy pinkish-white flesh. The most tender rabbit weighs no more than 2 to 2 1/2 pounds (900 to 1,125g). Hare should be under one year of age. If meat is frozen, make sure wrapping is intact and there isn’t any excess liquid, which might tell you the rabbit has thawed and been refrozen.

Store rabbit in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Raw rabbit can be refrigerated for two days. Cooked rabbit can be refrigerated for three days.

Freeze fresh rabbit if you do not plan to cook it within two days after purchase. Wrap rabbit parts separately in foil or freezer bags before freezing, and label for ease in selecting just the right number of parts to thaw for a single meal. Be sure to press the air out of the package before freezing. You may also freeze rabbit in its original wrapping. Uncooked rabbit may be kept frozen for 6 to 12 months, depending on the cut.

Cooked parts may be frozen in the same way as fresh, unless in a dish made with a sauce or gravy. In that case, pack in a rigid container with a tight-fitting lid.

Thaw uncooked rabbit in the refrigerator or in cold water. Never thaw rabbit at room temperature. In the refrigerator, a whole rabbit (4 pounds) (1,816g) should thaw within 24 hours; cut-up parts require 3 to 9 hours, depending on the size and number of parts.

To thaw rabbit in cold water, leave the rabbit in its original wrapping or place it in a watertight plastic bag. Change the water often. A whole rabbit should thaw in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

For quick thawing of uncooked or cooked rabbit, use the microwave. Thawing time will vary according to whether you’re thawing a whole rabbit or parts, and the number of parts frozen together. Use the Defrost or Medium-Low setting, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Turn rabbit and separate the parts as they thaw, taking care the rabbit does not begin to cook. Repeat as needed.

Varieties

Rabbit comes dressed, whole, or cut into pieces.

Nutrition Highlights

Rabbit, 3 oz. (85g) (game, domesticated, roasted)
Calories: 167
Protein: 24.7g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 6.8g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Selenium (32.7mcg), and Vitamin B12 (7.0mcg)
*Good source of: Iron (1.9mg), and Zinc (1.9mg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

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