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When prepared properly, rabbit is delicious. But, for the best results, there are some specific "rules" that you should follow. Of course everyone has their own set of recipes, but here are some basic, generic cooking methods that we have found successful and easy, and result in a wonderful meal.
How to Prepare and Cook Rabbit
First, skin and gut your rabbit in the woods, if at all possible. Rabbits are infested with fleas, so don't ever try to skin or clean rabbits in or near your home -- particularly if you have pets -- as they will become flea-ridden almost immediately.
Second, don't think that you're going to be able to feed a family on one rabbit. They're small animals and there isn't that much meat on them. Snowshoes are bigger and meatier than cottontails, but regardless, a good rule of thumb, and one that Phil Schweik uses, is to figure at least "four or more" rabbits for one decent meal for a family. Schweik says he personally tries to use five, or six – or even more. You'll see why.
Oh yes -- and no laughter, please -- rabbit really does taste like chicken in some respects. Delicately flavored, but you'll know it's not chicken. AND, if you don't cook it properly, it'll be tough. A good caveat for anyone who eats rabbit is that, however good you are at preparing it, rabbits have a lot of delicate, fine bones, so there will always be some tiny bones in the flesh. So be very cautious when eating rabbit – you don't want to have to do a Heimlich Maneuver on someone during dinner. Think of it like you would think about bones if you eat northern pike -- you know there are going to bones all over, however careful you are, so keep that in mind.
So here we go with cooking "B'rer Rabbit".
Most people take the meat off the hindquarters, legs and back – the rest of the rabbit doesn't have much meat – and, like a deer, for instance, there isn't much meat on the ribs. That doesn't mean you can't cook a rabbit whole; it's just something that Schweik doesn't personally do. He believes it's not worth the trouble, and, with all the bones, there isn't much to eat on most of the animal.
So put the meat you've gotten from your four or more rabbits (and remember however careful you are, there will be a multitude of fine bones somewhere in the meat), in a slow cooker. Poultry seasoning works real well with rabbit; put in enough cream of mushroom soup to cover the meat, and then let it slow cook. It will usually take four to five hours of slow cooking to get the rabbit done and tender. Poke it with a fork every so often (time will vary in how long you have to cook a particular "batch" of rabbit). Remember that rabbit is a wild animal, so it's very important that you cook rabbit well to kill any bacteria that may be present.
How to Bake Rabbit
To bake rabbit, Schweik puts the meat in a sort of "casserole". Cook it with some type of liquid, use a good poultry seasoning, cover it, and bake it at 350 degrees F. in the oven, from an hour to three hours, depending on the particular rabbit. Again, "test" the meat with a fork, basting if necessary, and when it's tender and you know it's cooked thoroughly, you're ready for dinner. Of course, you can include lots of veggies of any and all types in your rabbit casserole – potatoes, rice, pasta, fresh garlic, shallots, onions, leeks... the possibilities are endless.
Another method that is really simple, fast and good, is to take the rabbit meat, slice it, dip it in a wash and breading and deep fry it. "Rabbit nuggets" are drop-dead delicious," says Schweik. "My favorite seasoning after deep-frying is some type of buffalo-wing sauce. Only problem is that with deep frying I've found that you need a lot of rabbit, especially if there are hungry people around."
Bottom line: Forget the fancy Continental sauces, or complex recipes. Like most wild game, use the "KISS" theory: "Keep it Simple Stupid." Once people try rabbit, they uniformly clamor for it again and again. Enjoy!