Cave Girl Eats: Rabbit!

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If you’ve been a reader for a bit (and if so, first allow me to thank you for your support; second, allow me to suggest that you do something more productive with your time), you may have seen my Tongue post. I’m working on incorporating more varied sources of nutrition into my diet, attempting to practice “nose-to-tail” eating while exploring all the animal world has to offer – including animals most often represented as lovable cartoon characters.

It’s a strange thing at first. But the fact is, I suspect that the reason so many folks are obsessed with “plant-based diets” these days is an offshoot of an interesting de-evolution of our concept of “healthy protein.” Yes, there’s that misinformed “feed the world on monocrops” argument at play, but I don’t believe that’s where the plant-based obsession started.
Most of us were, at least at one time, accustomed to eating conveniently-packaged lean cuts of dissassembled grocery protein: factory-farmed chicken breast, turkey burgers, and egg whites. Protein with no corresponding Disney character. I used to scoff at the idea of eating liver, tongue, or anything that wasn’t available on top of a salad or at the grocery store (meaning anything the factory farming industry didn’t mass-produce, I forgot existed).
I believe this is a result of the animal-fat-phobia that took hold of the USA over 30 years ago and led most of us alive today to outsource our food choices to corporations who “knew better.” We started eating these generally bland things that don’t taste much different from less-complete, yet equally bland plant protein. How far removed from factory-farmed chicken breast is the taste of soy or lentils? Not far. It’s not a huge leap from Tyson Chicken to Tofurkey.
But the truth is – and I beg you to check out Jennifer McLagan’s work – the protein we’re meant to eat – fatty cuts, organ meats, turkey drumsticks, wild game – is full of more than just amino acids. It’s packaged as nature intended – with highly bio-available iron, pre-formed Vitamin A, Omega-3 fatty acids (NOT the plant-based, poorly converted precursors you find in flax), and cell-building cholesterol. These are things plant protein simply cannot provide.
I’ve written before about how our personal food paradigms are established from the time we’re young (thanks a lot, Disney). It wasn’t natural to me to eat Bambi or Thumper. But breaking free of that death-denying group think has been incredibly rewarding. And delicious.
I’ve intended to try rabbit for some time, but until recently I had no trusted source. When I met some of the US Wellness Meats crew at the 2010 Weston A. Price conference, I knew I’d found my people. I was able to order everything from chicken feet to rabbit, with the assurance that the animals were raised as Nature intended. And I finally got to cook up some Thumper.
To prepare the rabbit, I chose to modify a traditional recipe – Rabbit with Mustard Sauce – to make it dairy-free. After consulting with The Food Lovers, I put together a pretty decent dinner!

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1-2 lbs. rabbit parts or loin
1 Can Coconut Milk (I use Native Forest – the cans are BPA-free)
2 bottles dijon mustard: One grainy, one smooth; approximately 7 ounces each
2-3 Tbs. olive oil, butter or ghee
1/2 – 1 cup leek, chopped (use only the non-leafy part)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
One “boquet garni” – sprigs of thyme, parsley and a few bay leaves tied together with cheesecloth
Chop the leeks, carrot, and celery, and saute in plenty of butter, olive oil or ghee in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Meanwhile, mix the dijon mustards together.
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Once the vegetables have softened, add the mustard mixture and the can of coconut milk. Stir. Place the rabbit parts in the pot and nestle into the mixture. Place the bouquet garni on top.
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Allow the mixture to simmer, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow rabbit to cook for about 45 minutes.
Rabbit is incredibly delicious – it’s so much more flavorful than any other white meat I’ve had.
I made one small mistake – trying to reduce the mustard sauce by boiling it after taking the rabbit out. NOT wise. Simply scoop the rabbit from the mixture and top with extra mustard sauce.
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We had some rabbit loin left over, so later in the week we coated the loins with leftover mustard sauce and cooked them on the smoker. Heaven!
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15 Responses

  1. I grew up eating rabbit. My mom is Italian and has a recipe from her side of the family for Chicken Cacciatore that is actually also a recipe for Coniglio (rabbit) Cacciatore. Cacciatore means “catcher” and it was when they couldn’t catch any rabbits (they used traps) or whatever else that they would cook up a chicken the same way. Chicken Cacciatore means “Chicken a la Catcher” but they didn’t just catch rabbits. When I was a kid my mom used to get rabbits from friends who caught them. When we moved to the U.S. she tried to get rabbit from the butcher but it was always tough and just didn’t turn out right and so she has not dared to buy it since. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that the rabbits were farmed commercially. I haven’t ordered it from U.S. Wellness yet, though I have ordered other stuff from them. I’ll have to give it a try. It will sure bring me back because when rabbit is good it is really good!

  2. This is great! Arrus and I have decided this is the absolute best place we can find to actually get the quality meat we want to cook at a fair price for all and in amounts and cuts that makes culinary sense 🙂 My favorite rabbit dish is UNFORTUNATELY rabbit pot pie… I wonder if this can happen in some wild paleo chef’s mind.

  3. BTW-What if I’m already subscribed to the U.S. Wellness Meats newsletter?
    Interesting post… I just happened to be watching a movie version of Animal Farm last night and it was a weird thing to be all into the paleo lifetsyle, but to have sympathy for the animal characters in the story. While my rational brain points out that the characters are overly anthropomorphized by Orwell, the only character I wanted on my plate was Napolean. My emotional brain had empathy for the animals and didn’t want to eat them. I think that this is perhaps what happens with folks who are attracted to vegetarian/veganism (Molly Shannon’s character in the Year of the Dog is a textbook example. And of course, the lack of animal fats makes her crazy.) Many animal behaviorists claim that we do animals a disservice when we anthromorphize them, placing expectations on them they have no way of fulfilling. Perhaps we do ourselves even more of a disservice by this.
    In the end, I found myself wondering more about Orwell. I know his book is supposed to be more of an allegory for worker/citizen’s rights vs. governments and that whole she-bang. But I’m curious about what motivations he may have had for choosing the particular allegory that he did. For some people, such a story may not make it past their emotional brain, causing them to be lost in empathy for animal characters they think are people.

    1. You just blew my mind. This is my critical thinking exercise for the day. Orwell’s anthropomorphization wasn’t subtle in the least, of course, and was employed as a very specific tactic unique to the political subject matter. It wasn’t meant to pass unnoticed or exist above question (as in, say, Charlotte’s Web – haha). But you do have to wonder about Orwell’s intentions (conscious or unconsious?) with regards to the “sameness” of all creatures…

      1. And I suppose that was the more succinct version of the question I was ultimately trying to ask- can Orwell’s anthropomorphization exist above question in today’s world? Orwell penned Animal Farm in the pre-Lipid Hypothesis days when people still ate meat liberally because they hadn’t been made afraid of saturated fat yet. It was also pre-Green revolution, where on many farms animals were still used to do work because tractors and monoculture and GMOs hasn’t become the S.O.P. Hell, back them most family dogs still lived outside in dog houses or roamed free in their neighborhoods during the day.
        We live in a Brave New World. People treat some animals like they are children (Guilty!! *raises hand* ) Other animals are treated with even less dignity then those in Animal Farm when Jones was running the show. So I’m just kinda wondering out loud if this changed relationship with animals since Animal Farm makes it harder for people to recognize that anthropomorphizing the characters was an allegorical device that Orwell used, not any particular comment on the equality of animals within themselves or even with humans.
        Don’t get me wrong- I’m as much of a tree hugging hippie as the next homemade-coconut-oil-deodorant-wearing girl and I think that all animals should be treated humanely. But to me, treating an animal humanely is about recognizing our own commonality with animals; that we are all part of the cycle of life. The herbivores eat plants, carnivores eat herbivores, carnivores die and become plant food. We are part of it. Not above it. So I eat my grass fed beef and give thanks to the universe and to the cow that gave its life to give sustenance to mine.
        But I worry that Animal Farm, viewed from a modern perspective may confuse this issue for too many people.

  4. So the obvious question everyone is dying to ask and i will be bold enough to do so………Did it taste like chicken? (just slightly more flavorful chicken) covered in a taste bud explosion of mustard sauce

    1. Ha! Not at all! It had this rich, incredible, almost velvety flavor to it – I can’t describe it any better! It must be all the sweet clover and flowers it ate while hopping through the forest with Bambi.

  5. They’re too cute. When we went to Polyface this weekend Matt and I expalained the rabbits there were for eating and they got really upset. We had a pet bunny a few years ago. I wouldn’t eat cat or dog either…

  6. We might be trying your recipe soon. My husband has decided we will raise rabbits for our own food source and we purchased our two does and one buck for breeding about a month ago. They are still a little young to breed, the farm we bought them from suggested we wait until late Sept or early November so we won’t have any feeders until December-ish. Hoping this whole endeavor goes well. I’m not keen on some aspects of it but I know that I like deer better than beef and I believe everyone that says rabbit is the bees knees so I’m trying to keep an open mind. Who knows, maybe in a few months I’ll be posting rabbit recipes on my blog!

  7. I’ve been dying to try this recipe since I found whole rabbit at the butcher…so tonight I gave it a whirl…kids didn’t like the mustard flavor…I enjoyed the flavor of the rabbit, though I think since I didn’t really measure, I used too much mustard. Also, since my rabbit was whole, it was harder to get the meat off the bones…might have to try again with less mustard and not a whole rabbit…thanks for the adventure!

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