Rabbit is widely available throughout the year and has no close season. The meat is very low in fat and can be used in a wide variety of recipes and is especially good when casseroled. Younger rabbits, aged between three and four months, make the best eating.
Rabbit numbers are estimated to be well in excess of 37 million so they are a plentiful and excellent source of protein. Wild rabbit has much better flavour than those bred for the table though an old buck may be quite tough!
Rabbit livers are delicious and the kidneys can also be eaten.
Wild rabbits have about a one year life span and are prolific breeders. The official breeding season in spring and summer but with warm winters, breeding can start as early as January. Domestic rabbits can live up to 9 years
One female rabbit (doe) can produce between 3 and 12 offspring or kittens each time and they in turn can start breeding at four months. Within a year there could be parents, grand-parents and great grand-parents who could be responsible for up to 1,000 new rabbits. Hence the term “breeding like rabbits”.
Difference between wild and farmed rabbit
Wild rabbits are smaller than the farmed variety and the meat has a firmer texture. It has a gamey flavour which can vary slightly depending on what the rabbit has been eating.
Farmed rabbit meat is softer in texture and is similar to chicken with a blander flavour.
All year round
Be careful not to overcook. Wild rabbit is very lean so when roasting keep well basted and leave time at the end of cooking for the meat to relax. An average rabbit – about 1.2kg to 1.8kg (2lb 10oz to 4lb) will serve four comfortably.
A saddle cut of rabbit should be treated in the same way as game bird breast meat. It’s lean and can be pan fried or grilled for a quick meal. To keep moist wrap in bacon or dip in beaten egg and coat in breadcrumbs, oats etc.
Other cuts or older rabbit can be marinated in wine, cider or beer before cooking
Legs should be treated like drumsticks and need longer cooking.
You can watch a video of butcher, Scott Rea, prepare and joint a rabbit here.
For a range of rabbit recipes click HERE.