I was gifted 2 rabbits on Saturday, caught locally, gutted and skinned before being presented. I got stuck into finishing off the cleaning whilst trying to figure out how to prepare them.
Rabbit, for my carnivorous readers, is a very healthy and environmentally friendly good meat to eat. It’s extremely lean and in abundance in our country as an introduced and pest species. A female rabbit (doe) can produce 4-5 litters during a six-month breeding season – with six and more kittens per litter, which reach breeding maturity 10-12 weeks after birth.* Various attempts over the years to eradicate them haven’t worked any more than roundup ready crops and poisoning things works long term. Myxomatosis was introduced in 1950 and almost eradicated the bunny which was introduced near Geelong in 1859 for sport (shooting them). Wiping out 99.8% of most species would pretty much guarantee extinction but to the bunny that would have been nothing more than a challenge. Not to mention that, like any good pesticide, there are always a few who are immune or survive. And survive they did.
In 1995 they introduced the Calicivirus (the name was given as rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus sounds pretty awful) which has also had a huge effect in reducing bunny numbers but again, resistance and survival has kept the bunny alive and thriving in Australia.** An the wily fox, natural predator of the bunny isn’t interested in the fleet-footed Peter Rabbit and family when he can chase down Australia native animals. 😦 Gourmet taste buds. Both Myxo and Calicivirus continue to affect rabbits but less and less so.
Still, the introduction of rabbits to Australia hasn’t been all bad (just mostly). The felt industry suffered in the 1950’s with the introduction of the myxo virus as they relied upon the fur to make the Akubra hat, an Aussie icon, and during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, rabbit would have been a viable source of meat for many rural Australians when other meats aside maybe offal would not have been affordable.
So, with ode to my rural ancestry (McKenzie’s ran farms around Hillston, not far from Griffith in NSW and only left the land when my mum was 6) I have had 2 rabbits simmering away on Ignisa our wood stove for the last 24 hours with a dash of apple cider vinegar added. This helps to draw the goodness from the bones and makes a more nourishing bone broth. 🙂 Simmering the meat will also soften it as rabbit can be a little on the chewy side which is no surprise given their nature.
I plan to make a rabbit pie with the now tender meat but as we are a gluten-free family I am hoping that this recipe will provide the pastry for us. 🙂 With a few seasonings (sage maybe) and some of the stock thickened up into a gravy I am hoping to be onto a winner for the kids (oh please let them eat it). They are currently hopping around the house pretending to be bunnies. 😉
A frugal meal that can, with the exception of the coconut oil, be grown entirely locally. 🙂 One day. 😉
Well, I’m off to bake a pie. 😀