Wild Rabbit Recipe: Dressing, Preparing and Cooking Rabbit

This rabbit recipe uses Wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) specifically. Rabbits are regarded as a pest species in Europe, Australia and New-Zealand causing an estimated loss of 800 million US dollars annually world-wide. The wild rabbits I obtain are either shot or caught by my lurchers as a part of a farm rabbit control program. Always have the landowner’s permission to take rabbits! This wild rabbit recipe includes hunting, preparing and cooking rabbit for the pot. It does make sense economically: It’s free and reduces numbers of this invasive pest. Its meat is also very lean and tasty and you know for sure the animals have led a genuinely free-range life. Cooked meat from wild rabbit beats cellophane wrapped chicken, coming from industrially reared animals that probably had a horrible existence!

I find it a bit strange that a lot of people are put of by “wild” meat or game by the fact that the product is a lot more “recognizable” as an animal. I think that anyone who enjoys meat as part of their dinner should have a better understanding of what is involved in reducing the “whole” animal to the various cuts for cooking.

In this post I’ll briefly show you how I prepare and a “wild” rabbit recipe for the pot. There are probably quicker ways, but this method leaves the pelt intact, in case you want to make a warm winter hat.

Please skip the following if you are squeamish or find butchery imagery (before the actual rabbit recipe section) offensive.

Rabbit butchery: Some points to take into consideration

*Always use a razor sharp knive for skinning, dressing, jointing etc. It makes life so much easier!

* “Field dressing” of a rabbit is generally done by hunters to decrease the carrying weight of the rabbits by removing the intestinal tract just after the animal is caught and humanely dispatched.

*Be careful to remove the anal glands (they will give off a very pungent odour during cooking), and remove the bladder, the entire gastrointestinal tract (ie guts and contents) also in the pelvic area. Rabbit liver is very tasty, but needs to be fresh and the gall-bladder removed ASAP. Kidneys can be left

*Hanging of whole animals (field dressed: guts removed) for 2-3 days in a cooled fly-free area will tenderize the meat.

*The rabbit recipe: Browning the meat (frying before cooking rabbit) is done to get that  ”roasted” meat flavour by creating tasty heat induced Maillard reaction products – not to “seal” in the juices (an old wives tale I’m afraid).

First make an incision around the feet and the skin in the groin area as shown with a very sharp knive. Use fingers to "ease" away the skin on the back and pull away the majority by force from the fluffy bunny tail (pelvic area to be cleaned later).

Once hind pelt is "eased away", pull down the entire pelt downward. Remove feet by knive and twisting not by breaking bones or using pincers or a meat cleaver - this will produce very sharp bone shards!

The guts and stomach are removed by pinching and pulling the esophagus to leave the liver intact.

Rabbit liver is really tasty when freshly cooked (pink in the middle please) with some onions an bacon. Don't forget to remove the gall bladder with a sharp knive or you will end up with a horrible bitter mess!

Clean the pelvic area properly! (Run a knive through the pelvic cavity to open!). Remove bladder, anus etc. I usually express urine from the bladder with my thumb, just after the bunny is dispatched, so it is less likely to spoil the meat. Make sure to remove the anal glands next to the base of the tail (wich has been removed previously)

The best cut is the tender rabbit loin in the middle (which can be further trimmed by filliting out the bone and removing the sinewy skin) and this can be cooked quickly like steak. followed by the legs (best for slightly longer cooking/stewing). I always give the bony ribcage and head to my ferrets.

cooking: the wild rabbit recipe

This is my favorite rabbit recipe: Properly browned in olive oil or butter, include carrots, onions, celery, garlic & seazoning (you can also include thyme, oregano or rosemary) when the rabbit is brown and further fry for 15 minutes and de-glaze with 1/2 a bottle of italian dry white wine (ie pinot grigo). Include water so that all the pieces are just submerged... Cook further in a 180 oC oven with a lid on for 1 hour and 15 minutes....an italian classic: 'Coniglio al vino bianco' (legs are the best cut for this dish. I will discuss using the tender loin for a future rabbit recipe.)

2 comments to Wild Rabbit Recipe: Dressing, Preparing and Cooking Rabbit

  • I never have tasted rabbits before but, then again, as I read this article, I kind of liked to prepare and eat one, although hunting is out of the question because there are no wild rabbits here in my country. It’s good to know a fellow bushcrafter on the Web.

  • Gwen

    Trying out you recipe in a lodge dutch oven on an open fireplace with Rosemarino, carrots and onion. I used Vernace(a different Italian wine(?)) I use it place of white wine quite often.

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