Rabbit

Rabbit is both a gourmet meat as well as a common game meat and as a culinary ingredient has been part of the European and English diets since the past many centuries. It has now become part of modern Australian as well as the Asian cuisines too. 
 
It is an established fact that there are numerous cuts of gourmet meats that differ not only in terms of their tenderness and flavor characteristics but also in their nutritional worth. The levels of calories and fat, protein and cholesterol they contain vary widely. Unfortunately, it cannot be refuted that some of the best tasting meats contain the highest amounts of fat, since that is mostly where they draw much of their flavor from. 
 
Therefore, a healthy alternative has been discovered in rabbit meat, which is a low-fat, white meat, extremely lean, clearly high in protein and ideally suited for those individuals watching their cholesterol intake. The rabbit flesh is tender, moist, fine grained, and appealing with its bright pearly pink color. 
 
Rabbit is a versatile meat in that it can be cooked in various ways like steaming, broiling, braising, pan-frying, baking, microwaving, slow-pot cooking, grilling and barbecuing.
 
Braised Rabbit
 
Wild rabbit or farm fresh rabbit can be used in making this main dish, and the meat turns out quite tender and tangy with a refreshing light sauce to go with it. It may be served up with baked potatoes and steamed garlic-pepper broccoli.
 

  • cut up dressed rabbit
  • olive oil
  • thinly sliced large onion
  • minced garlic cloves
  • chicken broth
  • dried thyme
  • pepper
  • bay leaf
  • all-purpose flour
  • lemon juice
  • cold water

 
 
Tip: A variety of herbs and sauces can be used to cook the meat in order to stimulate an array of exquisite flavors in the braised rabbit. Fresh thyme, basil and rosemary could be used along with beer, red wine, dry white wine/dry vermouth or prune sauce in order to achieve tender, succulent braised rabbit meat.
 
Method
 

  1. In a large skillet with little oil heated over medium, rabbit is cooked until lightly browned; it is then removed and kept warm. In the same skillet, garlic and onion are sautéed until tender. The broth is stirred in along with thyme, pepper and bay leaf. Then the rabbit is returned to the pan and brought to a slow boil. The pan is covered, heat reduced; and simmered until meat is tender and the meat thermometer reads around 160 degrees F.
  2. The rabbit is transferred on to a serving platter. The bay leaf is discarded, then the flour is combined with the water and lemon juice until a smooth slurry is formed which is then stirred into the juices in the pan. It is brought to a boil, cooked and stirred until thickened. This sauce is served along with the rabbit.

 
Nutrition Information
 
A serving of the Braised Rabbit ~ 3 ounces 85 g provides-
 

  • 147 calories with 27 calories from fat
  • 3 g fat
  • 105 mg cholesterol
  • 38 mg sodium
  • 2.17 g total carbohydrates with 0.15 g dietary fibre and 0.21 g sugars
  • 28.2 g protein

 
The plus points of this form of braised rabbit dish is that it is -
 

  • Low in sodium
  • Has hardly any sugar
  • High in iron
  • High in niacin
  • High in phosphorus
  • High in selenium
  • Quite high in vitamin B12

 
Rosemary Rabbit Roast
 
This rabbit main dish is quite big on rosemary flavor.
 
Ingredients
 

  • large thinly sliced red onion
  • whole rabbit, rinsed and wiped dry
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • minced rosemary
  • chopped parsley
  • ground cumin
  • slivered almonds

 
Method
 

  1. The thinly sliced onion is spread onto the bottom of a baking pan and drizzled with olive oil.
  2. The entire rabbit is rubbed with freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbed olive oil. A generous sprinkle both on the inside and outside with a mixture of fresh rosemary, parsley, and cumin powder prepares the rabbit to be roasted.
  3. It is then baked in a preheated oven, sprinkled with almond slivers and then baking continued until the meat has turned opaque.

 
Nutrition Information
 
A serving of the Rosemary Rabbit Roast ~ 150 g provides-

  • 441 calories
  • 25.2 g fat
  • 116 mg cholesterol
  • 71 mg sodium
  • 7.4 g total carbohydrates with 2.1 g dietary fibre and 1.21 g sugars
  • 44.6 g protein

 
Spanish Rabbit Stewed in Tomato-Wine Sauce – “Estofado de Conejo en Tomate”
 
For the Spanish, it is fashionable to eat rabbit and other small game birds often. In fact, Rabbits are easy to locate in any supermarket chain or local food market in Spain. This recipe requires the rabbit to be cooked in a rich tomato-wine based sauce and is extremely delicious. This may be served along with home-fried potatoes.
 
Ingredients:
 

  • Cleaned and prepared whole rabbit, cut into pieces
  • finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • sliced onions
  • crushed tomatoes
  • bay leaf
  • sprig tarragon
  • sprig thyme
  • sprig parsley
  • finely chopped stalks of celery
  • white wine
  • water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil

 
Method
 
1.      Olive oil is heated in a heavy pan, rabbit is browned on all sides, removed and set aside to drain off excess oil on paper towels.
2.      In the same pan, garlic and onion are sautéed, crushed tomatoes are added and cooked. The bay leaf, thyme, tarragon and chopped celery are added next.
3.      The rabbit is then returned to the pan. White wine is stirred in and the sauce reduced on high heat. Water is then added if required.
4.      The pan is covered and simmered on low heat until the rabbit meat cooks through in the juices. Seasoning maybe adjusted.
5.      Chopped parsley is sprinkled as garnish and served hot with crusty bread and fried potatoes on the side. Optionally, the rabbit pieces are placed on a bed of steamed rice and the gravy spooned over.
 
Some other interesting rabbit main dishes are-
 

  •         Sautéed Rabbit with Bacon and Sour Cream
  •         Rabbit in Tarragon sauce
  •         Creamy Rabbit Casserole
  •         Southern Rabbit Pie
  •         Festive Stuffed Rabbit

 
Health Benefits of Rabbit Meat
 

  • Rabbit meat is an exceptionally lean meat, very low in cholesterol, total fat and saturated fatty acids as well as sodium.
  • In fact, the fat and cholesterol levels in rabbit meat are much lower than in other meats such as chicken, turkey, pork and beef
  • Of all the domestic meats consumed, rabbit meat has the maximum protein content
  • Rabbit meat is rich source of zinc and iron, and an exceptional source of vitamin B12 and selenium

 
Nutritional Improvements
 
1.      Rabbit meat is quite versatile and hence, may even be cooked with some lemon juice or orange juice with the addition of the zest to introduce a tangy flavour and increase Vitamin C content, an important antioxidant nutrient that protects body tissues from damage.  
2.      Spinach, bok choy or other greens may be used to enhance the fibre, Vitamin A, K, C, folic acid, iron and potassium content. Alternatively, a fresh greens salad consisting of lettuce, rocket and mixed greens dressed with low-fat vinaigrette can be served alongside the rabbit main for incremental nutrients.
3.      Mushrooms can be introduced into the rabbit recipe as a low-calorie, low-sodium, low-fat addition that provides a good source of potassium that helps lower blood pressure and reduces the associated risk of stroke. It is also rich in B-vitamins, and selenium which forms important antioxidant complexes that protect the body from various cancers. Mushrooms offer Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones. They also possess certain phytonutrients that stimulate the immune system and help fight infections.  

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