Wild Rabbit (roasted)

roasted rabbit

June 27th, 2012

Rabbit is not an indigenous British species, it’s thought that they were brought here by the Romans or Normans, to farm for meat and fur. Rabbit has gone out of fashion, it’s not currently a very popular meat in England and the majority of animals in shops come from France, where it it farmed (according to a recent Sunday Times article, farmed rabbit conditions are worse than that of battery chicken).

Since rabbits are prodigious breeders, vegetable farmers have to do a considerable amount of shooting and trapping in order to protect their crops (our food). Rabbits are classified as vermin, so there’s no hunting season. Since rabbit tastes good, it seems to me that we should be eating the wild ones that breed here, rather than importing farmed rabbits that taste inferior, due to their diet of grain. Rabbit meat is far leaner than most other meats, so you won’t get fat on it.

wild rabbit

I noticed recently, that there’s a stall in the Islington Farmers’ Market, selling wild rabbit for £3.50 (they offered me two for £6). Normally I braise rabbit meat – the large ones tend to be older and therefore tougher, but I bought a smallish one in order to try roasting it (on a whim).

bacon wrapped rabbit

This is very simple: chop 6 pieces of garlic and put them inside the rabbit with a knob of butter, a sprig of thyme, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Wrap up the meat in streaky bacon for extra flavour and fat, which it lacks. Leave the giblets attached inside or use them to make stock for gravy. Add a little red wine and red wine vinegar to the pan.

roasted rabbit

Cook for no longer than an hour at 180 – 200ºC. Cover and allow to rest for up to half an hour while making gravy with the juices, flour and some vegetable stock. Serve with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a good burgundy. I got lucky, this was a lovely tender bunny!

Other Rabbit posts

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38 Responses to Wild Rabbit (roasted)

  1. This is a good recipe. But I’m good with French rabbits 🙂

  2. ChgoJohn says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had rabbit roasted. We always braised it. But, wrapping it in bacon sounds delicious, MD. Then again, how could it not?

  3. Audrey Evermore says:

    Of course he tastes better than the imported grain fed variety … this one eats only first class vegetables out of Mr McGregor’s Garden ! Looks delicious and makes a change from disguising it in a stew .

  4. What a great way to cook rabbit and one I’ll have to try. Luckily rabbits are easy to find here as there’s a different attitude to them as a food. But considering that so recently they were the food of the poor rabbit meat is quite expensive. You got a bargain here! I always put rabbit in paella, but haven’t roasted it.

    • Mad Dog says:

      I think you have to try to get a young one, an older, larger rabbit would probably be tough cooked in the oven. As you’ll appreciate, rabbit has lost its popularity in Britain since the war, especially since people consider them to be pets.

  5. Excellent recipe. There’s something in me that prefers jointed rabbit rather than having the impression of putting a swaddled infant into the oven:)

  6. Wonderful! We can get wild rabbit luckily as welll as farmed and often roast or bbq it…so tasty! I love the bacon wrapped bunny, bet he tasted so good 🙂

  7. Karen says:

    It is very hard to buy anything but frozen rabbit here. And thank goodness, I haven’t seen any rabbits in Maine nibbling in the garden. If they are around, I think the foxes would make a meal of them.

  8. So many pet rabbits have been released on campuses around Canada that it’s become a problem.. little bunnies everywhere, but more domesticated than wild. I wonder what they would taste like prepared like this?? It might solve the problem;)

    • Mad Dog says:

      Farmed rabbits are generally domestic ones, since they are bigger and fatter. Those rabbits on campus would be very good cooked 😉

  9. Michelle says:

    I just bought a giant fresh rabbit today. This looks like a great way to do it. Just wondering, though, was it difficult to cut up for serving?

    • Mad Dog says:

      You could cut it into 2 or 4 when cooked, but proceed with caution, big rabbits can be tough. See here for some other recipes – rabbit with mustard is a classic 😉

      • Michelle says:

        Thanks! I usually buy them already chopped up and make sort of a confit out of the pieces, so this will be a first. But there it was at my neighbors’ farm store and I just couldn’t resist.

        • Mad Dog says:

          Chopping them up is easy, it’s a bit like cutting up a chicken for cooking. I cut the legs off and divide the body in two. I’m sure you got a good one from the farm store 😉

  10. Goodness, this looks delicious! You ever read Watership Down? lol I would still take a bite:]

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks! I have to confess I never did read or see Watership Down, but I did have a pet rabbit when I was little and was very fond of it 😉

  11. Sue says:

    I’ve been told to cook my rabbit very slowly, 120c for 5 hours in a lidded casserole dish?

    • Mad Dog says:

      They don’t have much fat on them, so you should either cook them very fast or very slowly. 5 hours sounds a bit long, I’d probably give it 2 – 3 hours, until the meat is tender and falls off the bone 😉

  12. Sue says:

    Thanks Mad Dog 😀

  13. Sue says:

    Perhaps our bunnies here are different – mine looks a little smaller than yours ( though perhaps it’s perspective), and I’m in Australia, hmm would that make a difference? ;o)

    • Mad Dog says:

      Mine was a young, wild, adult.
      I’ve been to Australia, but not recently and I don’t think I bought rabbit there so it’s hard to comment. I think the rabbits in Australia are European and not indigenous, so unless their growth has been affected by the climate or habitat, I’d imagine they’d be similar.
      The younger they are (smaller) the more tender they are. Young ones can be cooked in the oven, on barbecue or on a griddle and be tender, but they older and bigger they get, the more suitable they are for braising 🙂

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