there is nothing on the planet more nutritious and delicious than wild, local food that you hunt and prepare for yourself - NOTHING! here on our island we have access to lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, a wide variety of fish, pheasant, geese, duck, rabbit, deer and moose. i am sure that i am forgetting something, but trust me, we have access to this lovely wild food. and we are very grateful. my husband keeps us in beautiful trout during trout fishing season and friends of ours, who work the lobster and/or crab boats keep us supplied, we go "clamming" for clams and mussels, and several of our friends hunt (my hubby will start next year) during hunting season. a friend of ours recently gifted us with 8 wild rabbits that he snared himself on his own land. he also gutted and prepped them beautifully for us.
this recipe will work on wild rabbit, home-grown rabbit or store-bought rabbit.
a bit of back-info before we get to the recipe. in my opinion, whether you are roasting, braising or cooking meat in the crockpot - the VERY FIRST THING that you must do is to carmelize some onion in a pan with butter and EVOO. carmelize the onion on medium heat until it starts to soften and brown and then add in some carrot and celery and let those carmelize too! they will provide the base of any meat that you are cooking.
the next thing to mention is that when you are roasting, braising or cooking meat in a crockpot - please use broth/stock and not water! i am a big believer in making your own stock/broth as it is so simple - but at the very least, use store-bought stock/broth if you must. just not water! bleck!
ok, on to the recipe. which is more of a guideline. i have a penchant for blogs that write out the steps and explain what and why, and not just provide a recipe.
so, you have caramelized your onion, celery and carrot. remove these to a plate/pan/whatever. and the oil/butter that was in the pan is nice and browned and might even have brown bits in it. LEAVE THOSE THERE - they add flavour. next, you are going to take your rabbit and kind of split him in half using only your hands. just lay him on his back, bend his back legs away from his body, bend his front legs away from his body, and then press down near the spine. you might break the spine, no prob, but what you want is to flay the rabbit out as flat as possible. next you season your rabbit with salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, thyme - whatever seasonings you like. then you add more butter and EVOO to the pan that you cooked the onions, celery and carrot in and you place the rabbit down on his front-side or back-side. braise the one side for a few minutes until you see some colour, and then braise the other side. now add your rabbit to your roaster and sprinkle the onion, carrot celery all around. like this.
set your oven to 325.
next up - dump about 2 cups of stock/broth (hopefully home-made - it makes all the difference!) into the cooking pan. on medium heat, let it come up to a boil and scrape the bottom of the pan. this will bring up all the tasty brown stuff on the bottom and your pan will be clean and shiny when you are done. dump this over the rabbit and veg in the roaster. it should come halfway up the rabbit depending on what size roaster you use and depending on how much broth you want left over for sauce or gravy.
cover the roasting pan and cook for anywhere between 3-4hrs depending on the size of your rabbit. the longer you leave it in, the more tender the meat becomes and the more the flavours are able to mingle. after 90-100 mins, flip the rabbit and continue cooking for the remainder of the time.
once the rabbit is ready, remove it from the pan (don't be alarmed that the meat will fall right off the bones, strain your broth into another pan and either serve this as a sauce or make a gravy out of it. i always make a gravy.
here is my finished braised rabbit, served with wild rice, mushroom and cranberries.