Everyone I know who eats rabbit, and there are not many of those folks in my circle, tell me it tastes just like chicken but much leaner. I happen to like a well prepared rabbit. Yes, it is mild in taste like chicken. However, I don’t think it is a lot leaner than the pasture raised chicken that I eat, except for the skin. In fact, the wild rabbits in my backyard sit around most of the day eating the clover in my grass and not flinching when I walk past them. They look fat and sedentary except when the neighborhood dogs decide to give them a run for their money.
If you are a hunter, wild rabbits are quite lean. It is really easy to find rabbit in specialty stores and from online game farms or butcher shops. When buying from a meat purveyor, look for a whole Rabbit Fryer that may have a little more fat content.
Rabbit meat is higher in protein and lower in fat than chicken, beef, lamb, and pork. Rabbit meat is reported to be 20.8% protein and 4.5% fat. That is a nice ratio for a healthier diet.
I generally like to slow braise a whole rabbit with a wonderfully rich sauce. I will serve that over polenta. Smoking a rabbit yields quite different results but equally rewarding. I recommend wet or dry marinating the rabbit before smoking. Try these recipes on your Masterbuilt Smoker. Just double or triple the ingredients to feed more people.
Provencal Style Marinated and Smoked Rabbit
- 1 whole rabbit, approximately 3 pounds
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 TBS dried rosemary
- 1 TBS dried thyme
- 2 tsps dried oregano
- 2 tsps cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 bay leaf
Total time:3 hour 10 min – Prep time:10 min + overnight marinating – Smoke time:3 hour – Serves:4 people
1. In a baking dish large enough to hold the rabbit, mix together the 9 marinade ingredients. Place the rabbit in the dish and turn several times to coat with the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. If possible, turn the rabbit over once or twice. Better yet, place the rabbit and marinade in a large, sealable plastic bag. Alternatively, you can cut the rabbit into portions so it will fit into a bag.
2. Take the rabbit out of the refrigerator 40 minutes before your smoker is up to temperature.
3. Take a rack from your smoker for the rabbit. Add wood chips to the tray of the smoker. Oak is nice for this recipe. Place water in the bowl. You can add some lemon slices or white wine to the water. Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 240˚F.
4. Place the whole rabbit or portions on the smoker rack and place the rack inside the smoker. Discard any leftover marinade. Smoke the rabbit for 1-1/2 hours and turn over for even cooking. Add more wood chips and liquid as needed. Smoke for another 1-1/2 hours and check the internal temperature. You are looking for at least 165˚F. Smoke longer if needed to achieve the appropriate temperature.
5. Remove the rabbit from the smoker to a cutting board. Tent with foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Carve the rabbit into portions (legs, thighs, and split saddles) and serve on a large platter with lemon wedges and plenty of Provencal accompaniments, such as, ratatouille, panisses, and a mesclun greens salad with a simple vinaigrette. If you want a sauce, try a white wine and Dijon mustard sauce.
Dry Rub Crusted Smoked Rabbit
- 1 whole rabbit, approximately 3 pounds
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 3 TBS sea salt
- 3 TBS garlic powder
- 2-1/2 TBS freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 TBS onion powder
- 2 tsps cayenne pepper (more if you like the heat)
- 1-1/2 tsps brown sugar
- 1 tsp dried mustard powder (optional)
Total time: 3 hour 15 min – Prep time: 15 min + 2 hours to marinate – Smoke time: 3 hour – Serves: 4 people
1. In a medium bowl, combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, pepper, onion powder, cayenne, brown sugar, and mustard. Place your rabbit in a baking dish and pack the rub on the rabbit, everywhere. Lay enough plastic wrap to cover the rabbit on your counter and transfer the rabbit to it. Tightly seal the spiced rabbit in the plastic wrap. Place this in a baking dish or on a sheet tray and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. Remove the wrapped rabbit from the refrigerator before you preheat the smoker, allowing it to come to room temperature.
3. Take a rack from your smoker for the rabbit. Add wood chips to the tray of the smoker. Hickory is nice for this recipe. Place water in the bowl. Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 240˚F.
4. Place the whole rabbit on the smoker rack and place the rack inside the smoker. Smoke the rabbit for 1-1/2 hours and turn over for even cooking. Add more wood chips and water as needed. Smoke for another 1-1/2 hours and check the internal temperature. You are looking for at least 165˚F. Smoke longer if needed to achieve the appropriate temperature.
5. Remove the rabbit from the smoker to a cutting board. Tent with foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Carve the rabbit into portions (legs, thighs, and split saddles) and serve with some fresh vegetable side dishes, such as southern style succotash and Brussels sprouts salad (an easy recipe follows). If you find the rabbit is too dry, have some of your favorite BBQ sauce in a bowl on the side.
Brussels Sprouts Salad
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, rinsed, trimmed, and outer leaves removed
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 sp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 TBS finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Prep time: 20 min Serves: 6 people
1. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and thinly slice or use the shredding blade on your food processor. In a serving bowl, whisk together the EVOO, lemon, salt, and pepper. Toss the sprouts into the bowl and coat evenly with the oil and lemon mixture. Sprinkle the cheese on top and toss lightly. Add walnuts to the top of the salad. Serve as a side dish to your rabbit.