Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cooking Rabbit

Living here in the woods, and becoming more self sufficient has involved cooking a lot of new to us foods. Luckily, we are pretty adventurous and enjoy trying new things. Our gardens have consisted mostly of your standard vegetables. New vegetables have come in the wild foods that we eat. The food group where we've had the most learning to do is the meats.

We are learning to cook venison, rabbit, lamb, and soon will be learning about goat. I'm happy to say that the only meat I buy now is sausage and bacon, and we should have our own hog in the freezer late this winter. It is a good feeling.

Rabbits are wonderful meat sources. They can produce a lot of meat year round. They are easy to raise, and would be ideal for an urban homesteader. The meat is lean and mild. In fact, rabbit meat is extremely healthy. It is lower in fat and cholesterol than chicken. See rabbit meat nutritional facts.

Ideal market weight for rabbits I'm told is between 3-5 pounds. We usually let ours get bigger than that, up to 10 pounds, before butchering. In young rabbits, the meat is still tender and it is enough for a meal for us when they are larger.

Yes, it really does taste like chicken. In fact, I'm willing to bet if you served deboned rabbit to anyone they'd never suspect that it wasn't chicken they were eating. Though they taste like chicken, they obviously aren't shaped anything like a chicken. Learning how to cut the meat has been the hardest part. The best meat is in two long strips along the back. The belly meat is tough, but can be used in soups and stews. The front legs are similar to a large chicken wing while the back legs are comparable to a chicken thigh. I mostly cook the rabbit whole in a crockpot and debone to use. Sometimes, like for the grill, it needs to be cut into pieces. Then, we cut the legs off and cut the back into two or three pieces, depending on the size of the rabbit.

So how to cook it? I think that I've used rabbit in just about everything I used to make chicken with. Like chicken, it works well with a variety of spices and herbs, and can be cooked lots of different ways. As I mentioned above I mostly will cook it in the crockpot. The first meal I will serve it deboned and then use any leftovers to make soup, casseroles or other meals. One of the best things we've tried with rabbit recently is BBQ. The rabbit was cooked in the crockpot, deboned and then reheated with homemade BBQ sauce, roughly based on this Western North Carolina Vinegar Barbecue sauce. Rabbit is also excellent grilled.

Cooking new meats has been interesting. There have been challenges, but learning to use rabbit has been as easy as substituting rabbit for chicken in a recipe.


  1. So when you let them get to 10lbs, how many lbs meat do you get from that?
    Killing my own rabbits is going to be a tough hurdle for me to overcome (come on,, the cute factor is HIGH) but it's something I'm considering.

  2. The cute facto is big at first, but now they rally arn't much cuter to me than any of the other animals! So gald Tim des that part:)

    I'm not sure how many pounds of meat. If we are eating it just as meat I usally can get enough forne meal and then soup.

    I googled and found one sie that said a 10-12 week old rabbit would dress out 4-5 lbs of meat. There is not as much meat as say a commercial chicken, but it is close to the chicken we raise. Want to try one?

  3. Cooking it wouldn't be the difficult part for me. I could probably get over killing it - I do eat meat after all - but I would get so grossed out cleaning it that I would never be able to get through it. This is why I am not in a medical profession. Can't stand the sight of blood and guts.

  4. Gulp. I don't know if I could this. You're my hero. :)

  5. Hi:

    My son just got back from the UP from deet hunting. His first time and yes, he did get a deer. Wanna share some vension recipes w/ me? According to some, because the deer is in the UP of MI; it will taste really gamey because the idet does not have corn, and crops that the deer in the lower pennisula gets. I have no idea what "gamey" tastes like cuz I've never eaten vension.

    Thanks, and you're blog is great....

  6. Gail,
    Our deer do not have much in the way of crops to eat either, but I don't think they taste gamey.

    The biggest thing with deer is too not overcook it and keep it moist. I posted about it on another blog

    but perhaps I will put a few more on this blog too.

    Enjoy our venison!

  7. An absolute gem of a blog! It's so exciting to read it! Thanks!

  8. I had a client that had his homestead on three little acres... it's amazing what you can do on such a small piece of property. He had his rabbits and chickens and had an interesting "hanging" veggie garden. A really fascinating setup. I admire you for all you do. I wish we could be more self-sufficient. It's hard to know how to get started.