WHAT IS RABBIT MEAT?
This is a nutritious and delicious protein! It tastes like the lovechild of a chicken and a lamb. Like with any animal, it can be served in a variety of recipes throughout the year, (though best avoided around Easter). Rabbits caught in the wild are tougher then farm-raised. But wild ones can be much tastier when paired with the right recipe. Due to their speed, shotguns are often used. Unfortunately this means the amount of lead shot spread throughout the meat can be a pain to find.
WHERE IS THE BEST CUT LOCATED ON A RABBIT?
Like with most mammals, the saddle and loin are the most tender cuts. This is because these are the least used muscles (vs. the leg and butt which are used the most). Tougher cuts are best for stocks and stews while the more tender ones can be cooked separately and served like a steak.
DO MALE AND FEMALE RABBITS TASTE DIFFERENT?
With some species like pigs, non-castrated males can have a “taint” or gamy flavor. This is due to a combination of hormones and the amount of fat naturally present. Rabbits are famously low in fat, so there is little difference especially with farm-bred.
WHAT RECIPES WORK WELL WITH RABBIT MEAT?
Rabbit tends to be on the tougher side so slow cooking methods over longer periods of time work best. If you want a crispy skin try submerging it in brine for 7 hours prior to a quick outside pan fry and a long, slow roast. Stews in particular are a good choice for the tougher cuts. Great British Chefs has a great page on this! Some chefs consider rabbit a good substitute for chicken (the dark meat). However it has less fat and what is more flavor for some is gamier for others.
HOW LONG DO I COOK RABBIT MEAT FOR?
So this is a bit more complicated then with most other proteins. Rabbits in general are a tough meat, especially when caught in the wild. French recipes will recommend a slow, long cooking time resulting in an internal temperature of 139 F (59 C). However these are always for bone-in and farm raised rabbits. Other experts like the USDA site suggest an internal core temperature above 160F (71 C) for farm-raised which is a much safer option. If you have wild rabbits to cook, an internal temp. of 180F (83 C) is suggested and cooking in liquid to prevent dryness.
Note: These are estimates, always use an accurate thermometer to double check the core temperature of any cooked piece of meat. Oven temperatures can vary as much as 50°F or 10°C in older ovens so try to cook your meat in the same location for consistent results.