Game Recipes: Braised Rabbit for a Rich Rabbit Ragu

by Pamela

braised rabbit, rabbit ragu, rabbit recipe, game recipes, how to cook rabbit

You may notice that today’s recipe is slightly different from my usual recipes.  No, it’s not hard to make and doesn’t use a bunch of expensive and unusual ingredients (well, sort of).  I understand that rabbit isn’t exactly as commonplace as pork or chicken at your local grocery store, but it is becoming a more popular protein source.  Sure, there’s that hunter gatherer “trend” that’s been growing lately and a braised rabbit recipe is a natural for those folks (as are game recipes like venison, duck, boar, etc), but now there are more stores and butchers carrying rabbit (and other game animals) for their customers.

rabbit-ragu

I grew up eating game recipes, especially venison, but the occasional rabbit recipe would pop up in mom’s kitchen too.  Being from the Midwest, I even ate rabbit at a couple of restaurants too.  It’s fair to say that I’ve been a fan since I was a kid.  But it hadn’t been easy to find until recently (My idea of hunt and gather is hunt through my purse to find my keys and gather my meat from a store or butcher.)

Recently, my quasi-local favorite butcher started carrying rabbit.  When she tweeted me the date they were coming in, I was at the counter with bells on.  Braised rabbit was coming to my dinner plate soon.  Yes, the drool started early for this one.  Craig, on the other hand, was kept in the proverbial ‘bunny hutch’ about this.  He had a pet rabbit, growing up, so while he had agreed to eat the dish (months earlier when we talked about it) I didn’t tell him what I bought.  In fact, I had to kind of hide it in the fridge.  FYI…rabbit does not look a chicken, it looks like a small 4 legged animal.

Even though I had never learned how to cook rabbit, nor did I have a single rabbit recipe in my possession, I wasn’t daunted.  The meat can be fairly tough, since the rabbit sees a lot of activity (just like some cuts of beef, pork and lamb that see a lot of movement) so a long slow braise was in order.  Just like any slow cooked recipe, the braised rabbit called for aromatics and bold flavors.  It is Winter after all.

The most difficult part of making this rabbit ragu was cutting up the rabbit (which wasn’t hard at all).  I bought it whole.  Having taken a butchery class, I’m sure my instructor would have been very disappointed in me and the lack of skill I exhibited in breaking it down, but the meat for this dish wasn’t going to be served up whole.  A ragu means the meat is broken down into small pieces.  If you’re able to buy your meat already cubed up, this will save you some work.  However, I think the rabbit ragu gains quite a bit of flavor from the bones.  I slow cook the meat on the bones, let it cool, then pull the meat off and shred it into smaller pieces.

In case you were wondering…

  • Rabbit meat is all white meat (no fighting over dark meat)
  • Rabbit has only 795 calories per pound. Compare that to: chicken-810, veal-840, turkey-1190, lamb-1420, beef -1440 and pork-2050
  • Rabbit has the highest percentage of protein
  • Rabbit is lower in  fat than chicken, turkey, pork or beef
  • According to the U.S.D.A., domestic rabbit meat is the most nutritious meat known to man

This braised rabbit recipe is really rich and satisfying on its own, but having it top a thick polenta (like I did) or fresh pasta with some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese is a perfect dinner for these cold winter months.

For the record, Craig liked the rabbit ragu until he found out a few days later that it was rabbit.  Next time, it will only be known as ragu.  Do you make any dishes that you can’t tell your family what it is or they won’t eat it?  Tell us what it is.

Relationship Advice

Men use the old “spaghetti rule” to find sex partners and apparently that’s the best way for the species to continue.  Women continue to be mortified, but clearly play along.

You, no doubt, are familiar with that old saying: throw spaghetti at the wall and when it sticks, it’s done.  That’s the origins of the phrase: throw enough stuff at the wall and something’s bound to stick.  Which means if you try enough times, or different ways, you’re bound to succeed.  According to recent research, this is how guys find sexual partners.

You know those times when a guy is all over you to go out with him or just applies his mouth to yours without you having any clue what gave him the idea to do that?  It turns out guys, especially the one’s that think they’re attractive, tend to believe you’re attracted to them if you smile or interact with them.  But women underestimate the interest guys have in them.  (Which explains several weird situations I have found myself in.)  But men who are rated as being attractive, by women…not themselves, don’t make the assumption that women want them.

But success lies in the numbers.  The more women a guy tries to get with, the more women he’ll be with…if he doesn’t even try, he’s definitely not going to be with a woman.  So it looks like this is going to continue.  So ladies, if you’re interested in a guy…let him know (and subtlety doesn’t work).  If you’re not interested, let him know that loud and clear too.

Hey…it’s just evolution.

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Recipe: Braised Rabbit for a Rich Rabbit Ragu

Ingredients

  • 3- 4 Pound Rabbit (includes bones – cut into 5 or 6 pieces)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (plus additional for rabbit)
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion (diced)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 Medium Carrot (peeled and diced)
  • 1 Stalk Celery (diced)
  • 1 Cup Dry Red Wine
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 14 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Currant Jelly
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Over medium high heat, in large Dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Once oil shimmers, add in the onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, while occasionally stirring them. Add in carrots and celery. Cook for another 5 minutes until onions are lightly browned and carrots start to get slightly browned edges. Remove vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add a tablespoon, or 2, of olive oil to the pot and add in rabbit pieces. Don’t crowd the pan (you may need to do this in batches). Brown the meat on both sides (should take around 3-4 minutes per side). You want to get a nice brown crust on the meat. Once browned, remove pieces to a plate and set aside. Continue doing this until all the pieces are browned.
  5. Add the vegetables back to the pot.
  6. Next pour in the wine, chicken stock and tomatoes. Then, stir in the jelly, mustard and thyme and drop in the bay leaves.
  7. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper.
  8. Finally, add the rabbit to the pot. Make sure that each  piece is at least halfway submerged in the liquid.
  9. Bring to a boil.
  10. Once boiling, cover and remove from heat. Now slide it into the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Remove the bay leaves before refrigerating.
  12. Spoon off any fat that may have come to the surface (there may not be any).
  13. Take the meat out of the pot and remove the meat from the bones (use your hands, it’s easiest). You can throw the meat directly back into the pot or you can put it on a cutting board and cut the pieces smaller.
  14. Over medium high heat, cook the mixture until the liquid is reduced by half.
  15. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  16. Remove from heat and serve over polenta or pasta.
  17. Serve

Quick notes

You do not need to refrigerate this overnight before removing the meat from the bones. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can remove the bay leaves and pull the meat from the bones and continue making the ragu.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Diet tags: Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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4 comments

Katie January 6, 2012 at 6:07 am

I have been seeing rabbit pop up at farmer’s markets near me lately, and I’m super curious about it. Thanks for sharing the recipe and all the tips on preparing rabbit!

Carol Penn-Romine January 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm

For those who don’t like leftovers, may I suggest a French dish called réchauffé? Essentially, it’s anything leftover and reheated. Everything sounds so much better when you say it en français, right?

Pamela January 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm

It absolutely does. Curse those French yet again. 😉

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