Using the meat in our orchards


#1

I created this thread because @Mickster and I were unintentionally hijacking another thread to talk about how to prepare all of our nemesis–RABBITS! Perhaps later some can come here to talk about how to use other meat from our orchards (squirrels, mostly, but could even be deer…) Mick saw my post showing a rabbit I had harvested and then prepared and butchered for cooking and asked about how I cook my rabbit. Here is my answer (love to hear others)

I hate to say it so strongly, but most “beginners” at cooking rabbit are not happy with the outcome unless it is done in a crock pot for several hours (I put mine on when I leave for work and its perfect when I get home 8 hours later. But 4-5 will do it.

Keep in mind that rabbits only eat “salads” and spend all their time hopping around the countryside. Their meat is incredibly lean. While this makes it a very healthy “other other white meat”, we all know that fat adds flavor and moisture, so absence of it isn’t good news for taste. Rabbit can be a little dry and if not cooked properly, can be tough. The easiest way to overcome all of this is to simply use a crock pot. It will also overcome something even the best cook can’t–an old, tough buck rabbit. Its also mistake free- put everything in pot, turn on, wait. That’s it!

As far as a recipe, mine is a little funny. I like a good hardy rabbit stew, so I pretty much go through my freezer and my pantry and put pretty much every veggie I have! haha. Around here people call it “hunter stew” because its whatever meat you hunt and kill and whatever veggies you foraged from your garden/freezer/pantry. I can get more specific if you wish, but its equal parts of most veggies and I’ll even use some canned veggies (tomatoes, green beans, etc). My stew literally can have 10 different veggies- but you can make it with just a few of your favorites. Along with all my veggies I usually just use about 1 spoon fulls of “italian spice” mix that you’ll see in every spice section of any store (oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage) but most of the flavor comes out of the veggies and you can use whatever spice you like. I also use a LOT of garlic but that’s just me.

Well, I know that is much more detail than you probably wanted but I love rabbit so much and just enjoy sharing info that may help someone discover this wonderful food that also helps keep them out of our orchards/gardens. I sincerely hope you try it…let me know if I can help, and good luck!


Wildlife in our gardens
#2

Mine are too cute, and I love seeing them and my beautiful hawks they attract (who know me well now!). My orchard is too open for them to enjoy, so I can say that since they live in my evergreen bushes and trees, lol.

But I’ve served many a lapin to restaurant customers back when I was a server. Our chef’s recipe won’t be around anywhere, but it was white wine and mushrooms and traditional French. I’m sure Google would show a good one if cooking it that way sounds yummy to anyone.


#3

Thanks so much for joining the conversation…and I COMPLETELY understand and respect what you mean about them being too cute to kill. And Hawks are pretty too, but I lose so many of my free range chickens to hawks that I have a hard time seeing them as anything but an arch enemy! ha. I understand that it is just there nature and they need to eat- just wish they’d do it elsewhere. And your cute rabbits may not look so cute some winter when they eat the bark all around your favorite fruit tree, girdling and killing it. No- they’ll still look cute, but you’ll be ready to take them out anyway. ha.

You know, I’ve always heard that French people really love rabbits and use them more than we do here in USA. (we’ll ask our resident French expert, @mrsg47) Also, I have absolutely had other people tell me about a white wine and mushroom rabbit dish that is life -changing good. I’d love to try it…maybe a little googling is in order now that you mention it!


#4

I grew up on rabbits. It is a very lean meat, so not as nutritious as, say, short ribs from a pastured steer. But it is by miles the best source of B12, and has iron and zinc content comparable to red meat. B12 probably comes from the animal being coprophagous, so it is possible, but not measured, that the meat is also a great source of the rare but indispensable vit. K2. Surely rabbit liver is even richer in both.

It needs to be cooked for a long time in something acidic to really have its best taste. simmering in wine is a classic.


#5

Hawks and owls are the enemy here also. Hawks you can help yourself with by having guineas and geese in the mix for making lots of noise when one is present. Of course, you have to be home and able to hear the noise or it won’t matter. Though having lots of places for the birds to hide as helps too. Owls can only be deterred by getting rid of them. If you’ve got an eagle that has moved in… good luck.

Most of the time, I’m happy and content to photograph and observe wildlife, then they decide to interact with my food supply and it’s time for them to go. Had a coyote scoop up a duck a week or so ago during the day. Wasn’t fast enough to get him before he disappeared.

We barely have any wild rabbits here. We see one every once in a while, don’t really cause much in the way of damage to anything. Mostly other critters do all the damage. We do raise tame rabbits for butcher though. Talk about too cute to kill, try rabbits you raised from babies and have the color patterns of something you’d see in your kids cage on his night stand.

We just got one of our cows butchered and is now stocked in the freezer. Our cattle are purely pasture raised, they do get to enjoy apples and whatever else gets tossed over the fence that they will eat.


#6

We used to eat a fair amount of rabbit when I was a kid. Dad always told me not to eat rabbit in the fall until after a couple hard frosts due to “worms”. I have no idea if that’s accurate or not, but I’ve never eaten a warm weather rabbit.


#7

I had farm raised rabbits before. I don’t think they are particularly tasty, very dry meat, lot of bones, chicken taste way better. Ever since we had a pet bunny, we stop eating store bought rabbit completely


#8

Rabbit in France is usually roasted (the best) or served in a mustard sauce. The deeper you drive in Provence, you will wake up in the morning and hear no birds. They have all been shot and eaten. Wren, Robin, ortolan, anything with wings. That bothers me a great deal, but there is nothing I can do, it is cultural. They eat fox too. In the Vaucluse it particularly silent.

Rabbit is sold in supermarkets without fur and in les marchés with fur, same with birds and all game.


#9

Rabbit is very lean. We raised them when I was a child living on the Big Island. I’m sure there are good ways to cook them other than fried, but fried is the only way I remember eating them. Rabbit is mild, so as a child I loved it. I was one of those chicken tender kids.


#10

same exact cooking an acquaintance from pennsylvania craved all these years. He’s lived in vegas for > 50 years and had not eaten rabbit(didn’t know where to get one), but that was because he has never shopped at asian grocery stores,so bought him a big bunny wabbit for easter, lol

it could also be due to the more ‘outgoing’ and more ‘daring’ nature of the french, who happen to have some of the highest infection rates with toxoplasma. It has been said that the brits have been trying to figure out why their neighbors across the channel behave-- well-- so distinctively french. Per wiki, 84% of french have toxoplasma.cysts in their brains, perhaps due to eating horse meat and/or love for raising cats. The parasite’s survival mechanism apparently is to affect the personality traits of rats so that they’d be easier prey for predators, which is the only way to perpetuate the parasite’s life cycle.

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/biological-sciences-articles/what-does-it-mean-when-2-billion-people-share-their-brain-with-a-parasite


#11

That is absolutely facinating! I had no idea they eat so many birds! The fact that the residents of some areas have been so persistent that you don’t even hear many birds is just amazing. A Robin or Wren? Holy cow that seems odd and I wouldn’t think there would be much more than a couple bites of meat. But I’m sure they think lots of things I eat are strange and I respect other cultures and their dietary preferences…even though I won’t be eating a Robin anytime soon! ha

I’m sorry if you’ve posted and I’ve just missed it, but what is the status on your big move to France? Is it still on? Just curious, hope I’m not being too nosy. But as I’ve said, I’ve always had the fantasy of moving to another country just for the adventure of it all.

@jujubemulberry Raf, I just never know what I’m going to learn on this web site and you’re often the source of some of the most interesting stuff!. That post was a great example. The idea that a parasite’s life cycle had evolved to a point where it survives by causing a rat, via changing its “personality”, to get caught and eaten so that the parasite can end up inside a preditor is just amazing. Nature always finds a way!

@BambooMan and @Mickster I should have mentioned frying myself and I did consider it, but until you have had experience, I think it is very hard to get it right. It’s very easy to overcook and turn into shoe leather, or to get the outside well done and the inside not done enough. Plus, if it is just a tough old rabbit it will stay tough when frying. All that being said, if it is a good young tender rabbit, few things are as good as rolling it in flour and frying it in a big iron skillet, then making gravy with the leavings and flower and milk and pouring it over the fried meat! But I still think a crock pot is the easiest, shure fire way to end up with something you will enjoy,


#12

Re:squirrels, any way you might cook a rabbit you can cook a squirrel as well. Side by side I vastly prefer them, in fact.


#13

What about the Brits and their “mad cow”?


#14

Yes, the move to France is still on. My husband died almost a month ago now and his Alzheimer’s finally ended. It postponed us moving. I will now move alone .


#15

PM Sent.


#16

Im very sorry for your loss Mrs G, after what i am sure were some difficult times


#17

mr. bean dealt with the ‘mad cow’ emphatically, or so he thought…

and this is how the french tolerate brits visiting france :grinning:

quite interesting the relationship between the two nationalities— how one thinks the other is queer.

my friend had me try it, and it seems like what they sell in vegas are old rabbits.
incidentally, was just at the asian grocery store, and boy, they sure “got game” !

6$/lb for wabbit, and almost 8$/lb for quail


#18

I love that photo and information on price, and I really hope everyone here who complain about rabbits sees that! ha. Who knew they were worth $10.48 ? haha For our urban friends, I can tell you from personal experience that those pump-up pellet guns you can buy in Walmart for about $50 have more than enough power to take down a $10.78 rabbit (or any rabbit ha). You too could be turning a nuisance into a very nice meal. Lots of fancy restaurants have rabbit these days, so it isn’t just for us southern rednecks. ha.

I also was excited to see those quail in a grocery freezer. I love love to quail hunt and they are absolutely delicious. I see them in restaurants a little more often these days as well. sadly, they are in decline in the wild in my area


#19

was surprised to see rabbit being sold at that price, considering that it is often considered a pest, and breed like-- well-- rabbits!

have seen some wild rabbits and quail at the western side of the valley here. They seem to be really tiny though to make a meal of. Quail with their chicks in tow make for an idyllic scene.


#20

I will join you in grieving Mrsg but I will also join you in celebration of his release from the prison of his mind! My dad and my sister have both suffered through Alzheimer’s and they were lost to us long before they took their last breath. Enjoy the good memories!

Katy