How to Cook Rabbit

by Annabel Warne April 12 2016

Wild rabbit is one of the tastiest and most abundant game meats there is - the phrase ‘breed like rabbits' isn’t unfounded! Along with pigeon it’s the enemy of farmers and rural gardeners for the damage it does to crops and young plants and is regularly culled so we should eat more of it!

There’s no closed season with rabbits so we can enjoy them all year round. It’s also a relatively cheap meat. It is very low fat. People liken it to chicken but in fact wild rabbit is stronger flavoured with a darker meat.

Young rabbits can be roasted whole and the meat torn off. Season the rabbit and place it in a hot roasting tray, with a few bits of bacon or chorizo if you like. Older ones (the best indicator is size) can be tougher and are better braised or slow cooked in a stew or curry.

There's not a lot of spare fat on a rabbit. So, while it's not hard to make it tender and delicious, it does require some help. Fatty bacon or pancetta is the default addition to stews (or to wrap round young rabbit for roasting), but Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall also recommends yoghurt, cream and coconut milk are nifty, too. 

A classic dish is to braise a jointed rabbit in cider and mustard or a hearty rabbit pie.

Ideal flavours for rabbit

Fruit: prunes, apples
Herbs: sage, chervil, parsley, wild garlic.
Spices: mustard, star anise, black pepper, allspice, cloves.
Vegetables: celery, leeks, chicory, wild garlic
Alcohol: beer or cider

    Tips 

    • Roast rabbit on the bone for flavour and to keep it moist.
    • Cook young meat quickly in the oven, pan fry or on the barbecue.
    • Slow cook older meat with bacon or chorizo.
    • Be careful not to let rabbit  dry out.

    Cooking Time

    Roast: 220℃/Fan 200°C/Gas 7 for 20-25 minutes and rest for 15 minutes
    Haunches, back legs or young rabbits: 10 minutes on each side on a medium heat
    Strip loins - pan fry for 1-2 minutes.
    Older jointed rabbits - casserole for approximately 1 hour.

    Some of our favourite rabbit recipes

    Wild Rabbit Ragu with Penne
    - Delia Smith's Roast Rabbit with bacon with a lemon, thyme and parsley stuffing
    - Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Rabbit Pie with Mushrooms and Cider
    - Tom Norrington Davies’ Rabbit, Sherry & Wild Garlic
    - Jamie Oliver’s Grilled and marinated rabbit (Coniglio marinato alla griglia), cooked in a herby, garlicky, honey marinade
    - Olia Hercules Rabbit Stew with Marjoram