Slow-roasted Rabbit with Blood Orange-Kumquat Gravy
I stopped by the Port Angeles Farmer’s Market this weekend to pick up a few winter vegetables and I was excited to find that Spring Rain Farms had rabbit – this is something I’ve never tackled before, and I was ready for a new challenge. My mom used to cook rabbit when we were kids, so why not give it a try?
I paired this fresh little bunny – my neighbor is sure his name was “Thumper” – with a bright, citrusy gravy made from pan drippings, the juice of blood oranges and kumquats. Delicious!
1 wild rabbit, jointed into legs, shoulders and saddle
1/4 cup gluten free flour, seasoned with sea salt and thyme
1/2 cup extra-virgin duck fat, (you can use olive oil)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
The juice of 3 blood oranges
Handful of kumquats
Prepare the rabbit by cutting into five pieces.*
Use a large Dutch oven or roasting pan – one that will fit all the meat. Dredge the rabbit pieces in the seasoned flour, tap off the excess and then, over medium heat, brown the pieces one or two at a time in a few tablespoons of fat or oil. Once all of the pieces are nicely browned, remove to a plate draped with paper towel and set aside for a few moments.
To the pot, add the shallots, garlic and all of the duck fat or olive oil. Really, all of it, think confit! Add the wine and mix well. Fit all the pieces back in the pan and bring the mixture up to a boil, then partially cover with a lid, and allow everything to simmer vigorously for 2 hours. Check the moisture level every 30 minutes or so, adding a tiny bit of fat or wine as needed. Turn the rabbit pieces over several times during the cooking process.
Towards the end of the cooking time, halve the blood oranges and juice them. Slice the kumquats and remove all seeds. Set aside.
After about two hours, the sauce should be thickened and the rabbit should easily come away from the bones. Transfer the rabbit to a serving plate, drape lightly with foil and set aside in a warm oven. De-glaze the pot with the juice from the blood oranges. Add in the sliced kumquats, stirring well to get all of the browned and crispy meat bits off the bottom of the Dutch oven and then let it cook down until thickened.
Top the rabbit pieces with the blood orange-kumquat gravy and serve with buttery baked sweet potatoes and a fresh green salad.
*How to Cut Up a Rabbit
The following tips are from Gene Gerrard, Meat & Wild Game Cooking Expert.
Like all game meats, rabbit is very lean, and the more worked muscles, like the legs, take longer time to cook than the saddle (the breast meat), which cooks relatively quickly. Rabbit legs need to be braised or stewed to tenderness and should be separated from the saddle. In general, a rabbit is cut up into 5 serving pieces: four legs and the saddle. You’ll need a sharp chef’s knife, a sharp paring or boning knife and kitchen shears. You can also use a cleaver to do some of the whacking work that your chef’s knife will do.
Cut Forelegs. Lay the rabbit on its back. Hold a foreleg in one hand, then keeping your knife flush against the rib cage, cut the flesh connecting the foreleg to the shoulder. The foreleg isn’t connected to bone, so this is easy to do. Repeat with the other foreleg.
Cut Hind Legs. Removing the hind legs is similar to removing chicken legs. Push down on the rabbit’s spine to give you clear sight of the thigh muscle connecting to the pelvis. Cut through the thigh, exposing the ball joint of the thigh bone. Bend it back so the ball joint pops out. Cut the meat around the leg, turning the carcass, to separate the leg from the tail joint. Repeat with the other hind leg.
Remove Pelvis. There’s little meat on the pelvis, so it’s best to just chop it off and throw it into your stockpot or saucepan for stock or sauce. Count two ribs up from the tail, and using your cleaver or chef’s knife, chop between the second and third ribs. If you’re using a chef’s knife, press down on the back of the knife with your palm and push downward. You can use shears or your boning knife to completely separate the pelvis. This cut will release the flap meat on either side of the carcass.
Cut Down Backbone. Turn the carcass spine-side up, then press down and flatten the spine with the palm of your hand. Using the cleaver, cut the carcass in half horizontally down the spine. Again, you can use your chef’s knife, but you’ll need more pressure to run the knife down the spine, cracking the rib bones as you go. As you would do for cutting up a chicken, use kitchen shears to cut out the back bone on both sides of the carcass. Save the back bone for soup stock or sauce.
Quarter the Saddle. Using the cleaver or chef’s knife, cut across the saddle horizontally just below the saddle where the flap meat is connected. Cut this lower portion in half vertically. Cut the upper portion of the saddle in half vertically, which now gives you four saddle portions.
Your rabbit is now cut up and ready to cook!
If you make this recipe, snap a pic of your dish and hashtag it #kellylenihancooks. I'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
NOTE: All images and text on this website are protected by copyright. Please do not post or republish this recipe and/or images without written permission from Kelly Lenihan. If you want to share this recipe, please share the link rather than the whole recipe.