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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Cooking With Rabbit: A Leaner, More Sustainable White Meat

This episode of Earth Eats helps you learn all about the environmental advantages of rearing and eating the leaner white meat: rabbit, with two savory recipes.

Thai Rabbit Salad

Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

Thai rabbit salad with fresh greens and fruit, topped with sesame seeds and a light Thai dressing.

We’ve got something a little different for you today on Earth Eats…rabbit. Rabbit is a lean white meat that is quite versatile and can be used just as you might use chicken.

Raising Rabbits

Earth Eats recently spoke with Joel Salatin, a farmer and food advocate who raises rabbits (among other things) on his farm: Polyface Farm, in Swope, Virgina. Polyface farm was featured in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and you might recognize him from the documentary Food Inc..

Salatin says that rabbit has a lot to offer:

Rabbit is the most dense protein meat that there is. In fact, historically, that’s why the biggest purchaser/buyer of rabbit in our country has been the military for military rations because the protein is so dense that you don’t have to eat very much to feel full. Of course, when you’re packing your meals on your back, you don’t want bulk. It’s a very fine textured, very dense meat, extremely flavorful. Our chefs prepare it all sorts of different ways. Culturally, around the world, Italy, France, the British… rabbit is extremely common and a real delicacy in all of those cultures.”

Listen: Earth Eats’ Complete Interview With Joel Salatin »

Raising rabbits for food is starting to take off on farms and in backyards alike — and it makes total sense. Rabbits are healthier, leaner, and a lot friendlier to the environment than most animals.

According to Slow Food USA, rabbits can produce six pounds of meat on the same amount of feed and water it takes a cow to produce just one pound. And for urban farmers, they make a lot more sense than chickens. Rabbits are quieter, less smelly, and they’re easier to slaughter

Rabbits are also starting to appear on more and more restaurant menus all over the United States. Chef Daniel Orr says that the domestic rabbit is very mild so you can use it just as you would use chicken, but it is especially good in stews, as in our first recipe:

Rabbit Stew With Tomato And Riesling Wine Sauce

  • rabbit on a cutting board

    Image 1 of 4

    Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

    Chef Orr demonstrates how to clean and carve a whole rabbit

  • adding honey to a pot of rabbit stew

    Image 2 of 4

    Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

    After the rabbit pieces have been sauteed, Chef Orr adds a little honey to sweeten.

  • pot of rabbit stew cooking

    Image 3 of 4

    Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

    The tomato sauce is added to the pot and the stew is simmered until the rabbit is tender

  • rabbit stew in a bowl with polenta

    Image 4 of 4

    Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

    Serve the rabbit stew with sautéed greens and sautéed polenta and top with fresh herbs.

Rabbit Stew With Tomato And Riesling Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 whole rabbit (cut into pieces and de-boned)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 20-25 ripe plum tomatoes (peeled & seeded)
  • 2 medium Spanish onions - sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic - finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel
  • 3 branches rosemary
  • 3 branches thyme
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup Riesling
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. To prepare the tomato sauce, in a preheated medium stainless steel sauce pan place the olive oil, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Gently cook until the garlic just begins to become toasty looking.
  2. Add the onions and continue to cook gently until soft and sweet. Remove herb sprigs and add tomatoes and cook an additional 8-10 minutes until tomatoes lose their rawness.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer 10-15 minutes, adjust the seasoning.
  4. In a separate large pot, sauté the boneless rabbit pieces. Deglaze with Riesling wine.
  5. Top with tomato sauce and simmer until the rabbit is tender.
  6. Serve with sautéed greens and sautéed polenta.

Thai Rabbit Salad

Thai Rabbit Salad

Photo: Megan Meyer/WFIU

Thai rabbit salad with fresh greens and fruit, topped with sesame seeds and a light Thai dressing.

To increase the number of portions, add some Asian glass or cellophane noodles to the salad ingredients.

Thai Rabbit Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bite-size cooked rabbit
  • 1/3 cup salad oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
  • 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 bunch romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple
  • 1 cup carrot julienne
  • 1 cup red pepper julienne
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • handful of toasted salted peanuts (garnish)
  • handful of mint (garnish)
  • handful of cilantro (garnish)

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk salad oil, peanut butter, soy, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper plus 2 tablespoons water. Stir in green onions. Add rabbit pieces and toss to coat with sauce.
  2. In another bowl, combine salad ingredients and lightly toss.
  3. Serve rabbit on top of salad garnished with chopped toasted peanuts and herbs. Drizzle with a little of the remaining dressing.

Thanks to our friends at Gunthorp Farms for providing the rabbits for our recipes.

News Stories On The Podcast

Your Thoughts? We’re trying something a little new with the news section of the podcast this week, making it a little faster-paced and trying to include more stories we covered on the blog during the past week. Let us know what you think about that or anything else we do by leaving a comment or dropping us a line through our contact form.

Earth Eats Staff

Earth Eats Staff is a weekly podcast, public radio program and blog bringing you the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

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