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Simple Roasted Rabbit

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A simple roasted rabbit recipe flavored with white wine, garlic, and herbs. Tender, white meat baked in an incredibly delicious little sauce.

Learn how to cook rabbit in the oven in the simplest possible way, an entry-level rabbit recipe so to say when it comes to cooking rabbit. Or try this amazing Rabbit Stew, it is one of our favorites.

roast rabbit legs in a large baking tin.

What does rabbit taste like?

THE question when it comes to eating rabbit meat. Despite the popular belief that Europeans eat more rabbit than chicken, it remains something special even in Europe. There are for sure regions where this kind of meat is more of a common affair, but about 90% of the people I know have never tasted it.

And they all ask: what does it taste like? Well, to take away the main concern right from the start: it doesn’t taste gamey! Not at all. That’s what seems to worry people the most when it comes to eating rabbit.

It tastes very much like chicken, if you were to serve me cooked rabbit meat in a pie, for instance, I doubt I would ever guess it wasn’t chicken…

close up pieces of meat served with polenta.

How to prepare a rabbit for cutting?

You can buy it either fresh or frozen, whole or cut into pieces. However, buying it fresh is not always easy, I do find it from time to time, but more like a special offer around Easter or other holidays. Buying only the legs is nice, but it costs about double as much as buying a whole rabbit. So, a whole frozen animal is what I buy most of the time.

How to defrost it?

  • Place it in a large and rather deep baking dish and let it defrost in the refrigerator. A deep dish prevents the released water from messing up your fridge.
  • Most whole pieces around here weigh around 1.5 kg/ 3.3 and they need between 30-48 hours to defrost in the fridge, so make sure you plan ahead.
collage of two pictures of baked pieces of rabbit.

How to cut it into pieces?

For this recipe, you will have to cut the animal into several pieces. It’s really easy, all you need is a large cutting board and a sharp knife.

I roasted six parts in the oven: the hind legs, the front legs and the back strap cut into two pieces. What was left were the belly flaps and the carcass. The belly flaps are too thin to roast in the oven together with the rest, they will dry out too much. You can either fry them in the pan or add them to the rabbit stock, which you will make with the carcass.

I feel that if you are ready to cut and make roasted rabbit this way, then you are also willing to make stock with the carcass (and the leftover bones after eating). Otherwise, there would be too much waste, I could not bring myself to throw away the carcass, it really makes a wonderful stock (which doesn’t taste gamey, but like chicken stock).

Steps:

  • Place the animal on a large cutting board lying on its back and open it up. (1,2)
whole rabbit on a cutting board.
  • First, cut the belly flaps. (1)
  • Cut the front legs. Go under the armpit and cut the whole shoulder. There is no bone connection there, so it will come off very easily. (2)
cutting belly flaps and front legs of rabbit.
  • Cut the back legs. Grab both legs with your hands and break that part open. Find where the tailbone is and cut along there. (1)
  • Divide the backstrap or the loin in the middle. Find where the vertebra is and cut right there. Press with the knife or use a cleaver. (2)
cutting back legs and back strap of hare.
  • Cut the backbone and the ribs, they don’t have much meat on them, so you will use them for making stock. Find the last rib with your fingers and cut right along it. Repeat on the other side. The whole cut will look like a V. Grab the carcass with a hand and the back strap with the other. Break apart, so that you can see the joint between the bones and cut right there.
collage of two pictures of rabbit carcass, back strap and backbone.

How to roast rabbit in the oven?

  • Place the parts you’ve cut into a roasting tin. (1)
  • In a small bowl mix olive oil, white wine, grated garlic, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour over the meat and turn the meat a few times in the marinade to coat it all over. (2)
collage of two pictures of cut rubbit with and without marinade.
  • Cover with plastic wrap/cling film and marinate for at least one hour. I usually marinate it for 3-4 hours.
  • Remove the meat from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add 3-4 whole garlic cloves and a couple of sprigs of rosemary to the roasting pan. Pour in about ½ cup water.
  • Roast the rabbit in the hot oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, flipping the meat pieces about every 10 minutes. If you’d like the meat to get more color, turn on the grill during the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.
  • Tip: the front legs and back strap pieces are smaller than the hind legs. I usually remove them after 30 minutes already, but I always check to see if the internal temperature is right.
  • Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer, it should be 71 degrees Celsius/ 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Checking with a thermometer is the best way to ensure that the rabbit is safe to eat but not overcooked. If you overcook it, it will become dry. (Amazon affiliate link)
roasting tin with golden meat and herbs.

How to serve roasted rabbit?

Tip: don’t discard the bones after eating. Use them to make stock together with the leftover carcass and backbone.

Leftovers?

They keep well in the fridge for about 2 days. Reheat in the oven adding a little water to the roasting pan.

Use shredded/chopped meat pieces to make something like a “chicken” salad or use to make enchiladas, for instance. You can use the leftover roast rabbit almost any way you would use chicken leftovers.

oven cooked rabbit with spinach polenta on a plate.

More oven-roasted meat:

roasting tin with golden meat and herbs.

Simple Roasted Rabbit

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A simple roasted rabbit recipe flavored with white wine, garlic, and herbs. Tender, white meat baked in an incredibly delicious little sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit, about 1.5 kg/ 3.3 lbs (Note 1)
  • 30 ml/ 1 fl. oz/ 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 75 ml/ 2.5 fl. oz/ 1/3 cup white wine
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, divided
  • 4-5 rosemary sprigs, depending on size, divided
  • 125 ml/ 4.2 fl. oz/ ½ cup water
  • fine sea salt and ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Defrost and cut the rabbit.
  2. You will need six parts for roasting: 2 hind legs, 2 front legs, and the backstrap (loin) cut into 2 pieces (Note 2).
  3. Place the rabbit on a large cutting board lying on its back and open it up. Cut the belly flaps. Go under the armpit and cut the front legs with the whole shoulder.
  4. Grab the back legs with your hands and break that part open. Find where the tailbone is and cut along there.
  5. Cut the backbone and the ribs. Find the last rib with your fingers and cut right along that last rib. Repeat on the other side. The whole cut will be like a V. Grab the piece with your hands and break it apart so that you can see the joint between the bones and cut right there.
  6. Divide the backstrap or the loin in the middle. Find where the vertebra is and cut right there. Press with the knife or use a cleaver.
  7. Place the pieces in a roasting tin.
  8. In a small bowl mix olive oil, white wine, 4 grated garlic cloves, 2-3 sprigs chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Pour over the meat and turn the meat a few times in the marinade to coat it all over. Cover with plastic wrap/cling film and marinate for at least one hour, preferably 3-4. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Add 3-4 whole garlic cloves and the remaining rosemary sprigs to the roasting pan. Pour in the water.
  11. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, flipping the meat pieces about every 10 minutes. If you’d like the meat to get more color, turn on the grill during the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.
  12. The front legs and back strap pieces are smaller than the hind legs. I usually remove them after 30 minutes already, but I always check to see if the internal temperature is right, it should be 71 degrees Celsius/ 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Checking with a thermometer is the best way to ensure that the rabbit is safe to eat but not overcooked. If you overcook it, it will become dry.

Notes

  1. If the rabbit is frozen, defrost it in the fridge in a large, deep dish. It will need about 36 hours, so you will have to plan ahead.
  2. You can fry the leftover belly flaps in the pan or add them to stock. Use the carcass, backbone, and the leftover bones after eating to make rabbit stock.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 606Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 624mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 76g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

mjskitchen

Friday 2nd of April 2021

It has been decades since I've had rabbit because it's just not that easy to find here. The last one I cooked was in the 70's when I got one from my uncle that raised them. Oh how I wish I could find one now. Yours looks delicious and so very tasty.

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