Run, Rabbit, Run
A hare-raising tale
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
When my boyfriend first suggested we raise rabbits for meat, I had to pause for a few days before agreeing to the endeavor.
While we’d already been raising egg-laying chickens for a couple of years before adding bunny hutches to the mix, I’d never chopped off the heads of our hens and stewed their carcasses in a pot—nor did I want to. The rabbits, on the other hand, would be purchased with slaughter in mind.
After doing some research and discovering that putting rabbit on the menu results in a lean meat that serves as a healthful and nutritious alternative to beef and pork, I told my guy he had my blessing to go ahead with the food project. I also told him I’d help feed the furry critters and would be happy to prepare the meat, but would make myself scarce when it came time to end their lives.
It took us a few months before the Flemish meat rabbits we purchased were old enough to sire offspring, but eventually we had a hutch full of plump young rabbits that were growing at a scary rate. And, in early December, it was finally time to make them dinner.
After an afternoon of Christmas shopping, I returned home to find the culling crew—my boyfriend and a few friends who either had experience slaughtering rabbits or were looking to get it—eating fresh meat off the grill. One friend had a tear-shaped blood splatter on her face, and she told me the experience she’d had that afternoon had changed the way she looked at food forever. She was elated. Later that night, we all sat around the table eating some of the best stew I’ve ever had in my life.
At the second slaughter last summer, the entire crew was back in full force. This time, I stuck around to get a closer look at the process. And, while I wasn’t the one breaking the necks of the rabbits and skinning them, my admiration for those doing the culling grew exponentially.
“Don’t you want to try it?” one of the crew asked as they saw me closely watching them. “No thanks,” I replied, “but I’ll be happy to make you dinner.”
Stewed Rabbit or Squirrel
2 or 3 mature rabbits or squirrels (dressed)
6 medium carrots (cut into chunks)
1 large onion (thick sliced)
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
2 quarts boiling water
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups stock
Cut rabbits or squirrels into serving pieces and place in stew pot or Dutch oven. Add carrots, onion, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover with boiling water. Bring back to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer until meat is tender. Remove meat and set aside. Drain off two cups of the stock.
In a skillet or saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from burner. Stir flour into butter until thoroughly combined and the consistency of paste. Stir in the two cups of stock until smooth. Return to medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly to boiling. Continue cooking until thickened (about one minute). Pour over meat.
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