Many believe that rabbit must be very difficult to cook, requiring special recipes that are difficult to find, or complicated processes.
Some have even tried rabbit in the past, but it ended up being dry and tough, and was an altogether unpleasant experience. But rabbit can be one of the easiest meats to cook with! It can be tender, juicy, and flavorful, and delicious recipes abound, if you learn one very simple truth.
Rabbit is a white meat. If you cook it like you would chicken breast, you will never go wrong. Rabbit is, essentially, an entire animal made from chicken breast! And yet, we’re told it’s “just like chicken” and so we roast it, and it’s as dry as an overcooked Thanksgiving turkey.
So, what’s the difference? Why does it matter?
Red meat (such as the dark meat on a chicken) contains “marbling” of fat, varying within a large range of types, from a very small amount of fat to a great deal of it, which is interwoven throughout the protein. Think of a steak, for example. It often has fat around its outer edges, but it also has little flecks of fat found throughout all of the meat. This marbling allows red meat to be seared over high heat and remain juicy. The fat bastes the meat from the inside as it cooks. This is why higher grades of meat are used to indicate a higher amount of marbling of fat, as they will be the most tender when cooked.
White meat is a whole other animal, both literally and figuratively. A chicken breast has no marbling. It is a solid muscle, and any fat is attached to the outside of that muscle.
Some animals are entirely red meat (beef, lamb) and others have both types (pork, chicken, turkey). When roasting a chicken, the fattier parts are often used to baste the leaner parts, or special care is used to prevent overcooking the leaner parts (such as tenting a piece of foil over the breast of the bird).
Most folks know that a chicken breast needs to be cooked differently than a chicken thigh or a beef steak. It must be cooked “hot and fast” so the juices don’t escape, or “low and slow” where it is able to break down and become tender. You can push this limit a bit by marinating or brining the meat ahead of time, to increase its moisture content, but you still must exercise care or else you end up with something resembling the texture of Berber carpet.
If you cook white meat like you would red meat, you’re just asking for something inedible.
Knowing that we can cook rabbit just like chicken breast helps with finding delicious recipes, too! You are NOT stuck with the few dedicated “rabbit stew” recipes on the internet.
In fact, thanks to all of the healthier-eating trends over the last several years, with a push to create or convert recipes for chicken breast, there are exactly fifteen bazillion trillion (I counted) recipes out there. Any of these can be used!
As far as taste goes, remember that rabbit is domestically raised, and quite different from its wild cousin. Just as domestic duck tastes very different from wild duck, domestic rabbit meat is not at all gamey. You’ll find that rabbit tastes almost like chicken but with a slightly more complex flavor.
So now you know what most don’t. Rabbit is easy to cook, and you can use any chicken breast recipe. There are so many out there, you’ll never be able to cook them all in your lifetime. But you can certainly try!