How to Hack Up a Bunny

5th Nov 2007

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I bought the rabbit by mistake.  I was procuring a nice free-range chicken when I saw a whole rabbit at the local poultry counter in the North Market.  I gawked when I saw that the price was about $2 a pound.  The skinny little critter could be mine for under $5.  I hadn’t the slightest concept what I’d do with it, but when faced with such remarkable prices, why even worry?  Quicker than I could I have possibly imagined, I uttered a line that I’m pretty sure I never thought I'd say, “I'll take that rabbit.”

The joke was on me.  Those numbers I saw were for the pounds, not the price per pound, but when you’ve got a nicely wrapped rabbit in your hands there is no time to send it back.  Back home I tried to figure out what to do with it.  The traditional addition of mustard sounded delicious, but I had already convinced Abby to eat the rabbit, so it wouldn't have been nice to douse it with an ingredient she didn’t particularly like.

I did have red wine, and finally settled on a fairly standard braise.  It’s not a especially difficult recipe, and I felt a little guilty that I wasn’t taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the rabbit.  But that was the least of my worries.  Once I had unwrapped the plastic casing, I realized I’d need to chop this guy up, too.  And how was I going to do that?

Oddly, the Joy of Cooking had no reference, and neither did Cook’s Illustrated.  All I could find was a photo on flickr that showed how all the different parts of the rabbit looked when properly chopped apart.  I began right away.

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This doesn't even come close to the perfection and cleanliness exhibited in the master photo.  But for not having the slightest clue what I was doing, I'm rather impressed with myself.  Ends up the legs of the creature are fairly similar to those of a chicken.  I had no problem hacking them off.  The trouble came with the breast and the fillets.  The breast meat is awfully thin, and I didn't even know there were tender portions running along the back, much like the chicken tenderloin.   I probably would have thrown both pieces away if I didn't have the photo to guide me.   It was my good luck.  They were the most tender parts.

Braised Rabbit in Red Wine

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  • 1 Rabbit
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup wine
  • 1 stem of rosemary

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Pour the oil in a large cast iron pan.  Turn the heat to medium and then add the carrots and onion.   When softened, remove with a slotted spoon.

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Sprinkle some flour on the rabbit pieces.

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Place them in the pan and brown on both sides.

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Remove the rabbit pieces.  Add the wine, and scrap up in pieces stuck to the bottom.  Then toss the rabbit back in along with the carrots and onion.

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Bring the sauce to a simmer, and let cook for about 30 minutes.

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When done, remove the rabbit, and then strain the sauce into another skillet.  Reduce over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until thick and delicious.


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