Let’s Rabbit On
I am not that partial to wild rabbit but plenty of people like it. As a child growing up in a large family the occasional wild rabbit was a supplementary meal option.
I remember going out in the evening with my father to set traps. (They were legal back then) and then first thing the next morning we would set off to see what we had trapped. My father would not let me watch by making me turn around when he wrung their necks.
I can’t recall watching him skin them and gut them. I just remember eating them. My mother would make them taste pretty spectacular. As a kid I loved rabbit. She would cook the rabbit pieces, crumb them and then fry them. Kind of like KFC (some would say exactly like KFC but that would be starting rumours). Many years later our mother told us that she hated rabbit which is probably why it tasted so good, she had perfected the art of hiding the taste. Her father hated rabbit too and would never eat chicken when he was dining out or at dance suppers. Grandpa reckons they were serving rabbit disguised as chicken. Grandpa would only eat chicken at home or if it was served still shaped like chicken.
About five years ago, my husband and I were living in Tasmania and they are pretty inclined towards rabbit there, so filled with memories of childhood I bought one to cook for dinner. Well, I should have rung my mother and got her recipe. Let me tell you, it was revolting. There is something about a gland that has to be removed (which I didn’t do and feel a bit nauseas writing about it actually) and the kidneys have to be removed as well. You’d think wouldn’t you, that if you buy a rabbit that has been skinned and gutted those things would have been done. Maybe they were, who knows, suffice to say most of it got chucked out. (We didn’t have dogs at that time).
When I first met my husband’s father, I was surprised to see he had ‘pet’ rabbits in the yard. He had about a half a dozen fluffy white gorgeous rabbits. Not the grey wild ones. They were so cute and it showed a very sweet side of pop that I didn’t know about. On our next visit, there were no rabbits. “Oh no! What happened to them?” My husband had to ‘fes up that the rabbits were a cash crop for food and fur. I was so horrified. I understood eating vermin but cute fluffy white ones was a shock I can tell you. My husband ate a lot of rabbit in his household growing up. He told me his mother made the best rabbit stew and was served with semmelknödel bread dumplings. (It is not my husband’s mother’s recipe but a traditional Austrian rabbit stew and dumplings can be found on the following link.
Last Easter, my husband made his Austrian rabbit stew and it was quite tasty. My heart threw off a few ectopic beats when I noticed a kidney floating around on top but apart from that it was quite delicious. In our household, it is the Bilby that represents Easter to us now and has done for many years. Mind you, I never understood the connection with the rabbit or the bilby at Easter since neither lay eggs but hey! What the heck.
In Europe rabbit is very popular to eat and in Australia we should eat them more, given the damage this introduced species has done to our environment. It looks like it is back to the kitchen to test recipes that will entice me to eat them. I must remember to remove all the bits that make it taste revolting!
Enjoy the recipe.