My rabbit finally arrived!!!
About 2 months ago, I noticed a sign on one of the booths at Urban Harvest said they sold rabbit (along with some specialty sausages.) I asked them if they had any available, and apparently the owner had decided to stop raising them because he wanted to use the land for something else.
Luckily, the farmer was nice enough to point me to another vendor at the market that raised rabbits. That day, I met farmer Allen of Harrison Farms. I had never been to his booth because he typically sells pork products that I don’t eat, but he let me know he had a few rabbits on his land that he was raising for harvest!
It is impossible to get this level of transparency at the typical grocery store.
At the time, the rabbits were still growing. Each week, I checked in with Allen to ask about how the rabbits were doing. They were growing slowly and steadily, eating the scraps from the vegetables in his garden. Apparently, they did a great job at fertilizing his plants; they fertilized some luffa plants to grow to the size of his arm!!
Finally, after about 6 weeks of waiting, the rabbit was harvested. What I love most about Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market is the transparency. He let me know that he killed the rabbit at 2 pm the day before.
It was so fresh that it had been packaged less than 16 hours before I bought it. That’s just not possible at HEB.
I do envision a grocery store with full transparency, but that is a story for a different day.
It is important to note that this rabbit was killed domestically and not shot in the wild. Because the blood can drain out, a lot of the gamey taste isn’t present that you would get in a wild-caught rabbit. That makes it a bit easier to come out with a pleasant flavor.
This was my first time buying and cooking a rabbit, so I went to YouTube to figure out what cuts to make to get ready to braise this rabbit.
It was surprisingly quick and easy to butcher this rabbit.
I learned that the typical method is to remove the legs first. Then, the sides are removed for a bacon-like cut. Finally, the ribs and hips are saved for stock, and the back (loin) is broken down into however many pieces you like.
If you aren’t squeamish, watch the video at the end to see the full butchering process.
A good marinade brings more than just flavor.
Here is an excerpt from Healing with Whole Foods that I think every meat eater should read.
Acid marinades help break down fats and protein chains – slice meat in thin pieces and marinade for 30 minutes or longer in any of the following solutions: apple cider vinegar diluted in two parts water, lemon juice, wine, tomato juice, beer, [or] other strongly alcoholic beverages diluted in two parts waterHealing with Whole Foods (Section: Meat Preparation for Deficiencies and Dietary Transition) – p. 158
I had some spicy pickle juice leftover from a cooking competition, so I used this for my marinade. I also threw a sprig of rosemary and Texas tarragon in there. We were pretty hungry, so we let our rabbit sit for 45 minutes before continuing the cooking process.
Now, if you’ve braised chicken before, this is a pretty similar process! I started by seasoning with salt and pepper and getting a nice sear on each side of each piece.
While the pieces were searing, I chopped some onion, shallot, garlic, and kale. I like using thinly sliced onions because they break down into a great gravy. I minced the shallot and garlic so they would quickly release their flavor.
The gravy process might be my favorite part of this preparation.
After the sear was over, I had a lot of flavorful brown bits stuck to my pot. I poured in a bit of water, and these came right off and formed the start of the gravy. I added my onions and cooked for a few minutes, kale stems and shallots for a minute, and then garlic for 30 seconds ONLY!
I was really happy to not waste the kale stems. They are packed with nutrients, and they cooked down well with the other vegetables. Next time, I think I’ll slice them a bit thinner and use them as a garnish at the very end of plating.
As the kitchen started to smell like garlic, I de-glazed a second time with a cup of white wine. When cooking with wine, you don’t have to buy the most expensive bottle, but make sure you would at least enjoy a glass of it! Don’t cheap out!
We rely on wine in this recipe to stand up to the strong, potentially gamey flavors of the rabbit. It also pairs really well with aromatics like shallots, garlic, thyme, and rosemary!
You want to cook all of the alcohol off of the wine so that you’re just left with the flavors. It is easy to tell when the wine has cooked down enough. If you smell the pot while there is still alcohol content left, you will get a giant whiff of concentrated alcohol still cooking off!
This is die to the fact that alcohol is more volatile than water. A nerdy lesson for another day.
The hard work is done. Time to braise!
At this point, it’s time to get the rest of the seasonings in and start the braise!
I added Revival Provisions Spicy Sinner mustard, another sprig of rosemary and Texas tarragon, thyme, and basil. Then I added about 12 leaves of chopped kale along with the seared rabbit pieces, and I covered everything with 1:1 vegetable broth and water. I tasted my broth and added a few more pinches of salt and pepper, and I brought my pot to a boil and simmer and let everything cook and develop for an hour!
Now, the last thing to do was make some creamy sauce to thicken the gravy just a bit.
I removed the tender rabbit and cooked the broth down. I evaporated about 50% of the liquid to create a thick sauce. Then, I added a can of coconut cream, added the rabbit back in to re-heat, and served!
I have been loving my Harvest Grain Mills Carolina Gold brown rice, so I used this as the base of my plate. Paige wanted to eat hers over noodles, so we got some fresh fettuccine black pepper noodles for her.
And that is how you braise a rabbit!!!
I still have to invent a burger a week!
The next day, I was making some cranberry sauce to take to a small Thanksgiving gathering, and I came up with a delicious burger/slider!
I made some more sweet potato biscuits, and I slathered some fresh cranberry sauce on there. I topped that with some shredded rabbit back leg, and I smothered all of that with some kale gravy. These were so good I had to make two!
This rabbit experiment was 1000 percent successful!
Delicious rice and pasta dishes and leftover sweet potato rabbit biscuits were an absolute treat this week.
I really do not like to eat too much meat each week, so I shared the dish with my neighbor and my friend down the street. The last time my neighbor had it was over a fire in Kenya, and he really appreciated the braise treatment. My other friend grew up in the country, and she said my dish looked exactly like when her mom used to make it!
Check out the video for a detailed rendition of this recipe!
Thank you for reading! I hope you learned something, I certainly did this week! Enjoy my recipe, the time it takes is definitely worth it!
Braised Rabbit with Kale Gravy
- Chef knife
- Enameled dutch oven
- 1 rabbit 3-4 lbs
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar for marinade
- 2 stems rosemary
- 2 stems Texas tarragon or tarragon
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp butter grass fed
- 2 tbsp olive oil unrefined
- 1 red onion sliced thin
- 1 shallot minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 10 leaves kale a curly variety
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 tbsp coarse-grain mustard
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 8 oz coconut cream
- rice or pasta to serve over
Butcher the Rabbit
- Remove front legs, then back legs.
- Cut side flaps of rabbit. Save to use as "bacon" – sear or wrap vegetables and sear then bake.
- Cut off rib cage and hips. These pieces do not have much meat on them, so they are best used for stock or bone broth.
- Cut back into 2-3 pieces, depending how large rabbit is.
Marinade the Rabbit – strongly optional
- Add rabbit legs and back to a plastic bag. Cover with one part apple cider vinegar and two parts water. Add a sprig of rosemary and Texas tarragon.
- After at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, remove the rabbit pieces. Pat each one dry with a paper towel.
Sear and Braise Rabbit
- Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Season rabbit pieces generously with salt and pepper.Cut onions, shallots, and garlic. Roughly chop stems of kale. Cut kale leaves into 1 inch strips.
- Sear rabbit on both sides for 4-5 minutes. You should get a nice golden-brown color on the meat. Remove the rabbit onto a plate on the side. Leave seared bits in the pot for the next step.
- De-glaze the pan with 1/2 cup water. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes, until almost translucent. Add shallots and kale stems and cook for a minute. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- De-glaze the pan again, this time with 1 cup of white wine.Cook the wine down until you can no longer smell alcohol coming off of the broth.
- Add mustard, basil, and thyme and mix in.Add kale and rabbit pieces, and cover the pot with vegetable broth. Taste the broth, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring the pot to a boil, then turn the pot to low-medium heat. Simmer the rabbit for an hour. Do not remove the lid during this time, it will make the rabbit cook slower!
- Now, remove the rabbit to a plate. Bring the broth to a boil and cook it down to about half the original volume. This will take about 10 minutes.Add coconut cream and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rabbit back in for a minute or two to heat it back up.
- On a plate, add some rice or pasta. Add a piece of rabbit, and top with the kale gravy.Enjoy!!!