Rabbits and hares are among the easiest of game animals to capture or domesticate, which historically made them a crucial source of protein during times of hardship. Both wild and domesticated rabbits are lean and tasty, though domesticated rabbits are milder in flavor and tenderer when cooked. Portioning and frying one is much the same as cutting up a chicken of similar size.
Things You'll Need
- Cutting board
- Sharp boning knife
- Clean plate
- Plate or shallow bowl
- Salt and pepper
- Heavy skillet
- Cooking oil
- Paper towels
Preparing the Rabbit
Place the rabbit on your cutting board with the rib cage facing up, and the hind legs nearest you. Use the tip of your boning knife to cut through the hip joints, severing the two meaty hind legs from the carcass. Set them aside on a clean plate.
Rotate the rabbit so its forelegs are closest to you. Hold a foreleg in your hand and lift it at an angle away from the carcass. Feel the shoulder area with your fingers, to locate the shoulder blade. Pick up your knife and slide the tip underneath the shoulder blade, cutting through the shoulder joint to separate the forelegs. Transfer those to your plate as well.
Turn the carcass over so you're looking at the thick saddle, or loin muscles, along the back. Cut through the backbone at the beginning of the loin, separating the bony rib section. Do the same for the tail end, where the hind legs were attached. You'll be left with a portion of the backbone, the two loin muscles and the ribs beneath the loins.
Remove the rib bones, if you wish, by running your blade between the ribs and the layer of meat that covers them. Snap off the bared bones, leaving the backbone in place. Cut the saddle in half crosswise.
Frying the Rabbit
Fill a plate or shallow bowl with flour. Season the rabbit portions liberally with salt and pepper, then dredge them in the flour until they're well covered. Shake off any excess flour.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom to a depth of 1/4 inch, then place the rabbit pieces into the hot oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the rabbit pieces for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden.
Turn the rabbit pieces and cook on the second side for another 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the portions to a plate lined with paper towels and allow them to drain for at least 2 minutes before serving.
Tips & Warnings
- Young domesticated rabbits, the kind you'll find at the supermarket or butcher's shop, can be substituted for chicken in most fried chicken recipes. Mature domestic rabbits are tougher and should be slow-cooked, like wild-caught rabbits.
- You can add flavor by marinating the rabbit ahead of time in a mixture of oil, wine and herbs, or in buttermilk. Pat the pieces dry before dredging them as usual.
- One rabbit yields six pieces -- two forelegs, two hindlegs and two halves of the saddle -- which will feed two to three people. If you're preparing more than one rabbit, fry the pieces in small batches and keep them warm in your oven until all the pieces are cooked.
- Professional Cooking; Wayne Gisslen
- Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images