Saturday, May 28, 2011

Grill everything: Rabbit

Now, who told you that rabbit tastes like chicken? They either never actually tried rabbit and are judging from the similar size and shape of the parts, or they only tasted it in one of those preparations that cover up the delicate flavor of the meat with a lot of sauce and spices. Rabbit tastes like rabbit! If i would compare it to chicken, I'd say that rabbit tastes like chicken should in the perfect world. It has delicate meaty flavor that, depending on the animal's diet, can sometimes be distinctly sweet. Also rabbit meat is naturally lean, so it's good for you.
The traditional, fool-proof way to cook rabbit is stewing or braising. This is what I have always been doing too. Sometimes I would save the tiny tender flanks (belly), loins, liver and kidneys to add to other things on the grill, but the legs always went into the braising pot. They can be tough and dry if cooked by dry heat, especially coming from a large animal that's been previously frozen.
This small (2 pounds) rabbit that I got from Devil's Gulch Ranch was fresh and looked tender, and it obviously had been well fed, as it had some fat in it, so I decided to risk cooking it all on the grill - and it worked!

I got the idea of the marinade at Jamie Oliver's website .

I left out the honey: the meat is already sweet, why try to improve it? I cut up the bunny and rubbed the parts with a paste made of minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, salt and white pepper, covered and let them sit for 30 minutes or so. I preheated my gas grill on it's highest setting, then just before cooking I turned the gas down to medium and let some of the heat escape, so the actual cooking was done at 400 degrees or so.

The only secret in grilling rabbit (besides getting a young and fresh one from a good source) is that different parts cook in different times.

The hind legs are largest and toughest, hardworking parts of the beast. They took 15 minutes per side.
I added the smaller front legs while turning the hind legs over. They cooked about 8 minutes per side.
The delicate loins were ready after 3 minutes per side.
Then I turned heat back up, and quickly seared the bellies and liver and kidneys, threaded on a bamboo skewer, 2 minutes per side. This made the belly pieces really crispy without burning them, and cooked the liver and kidneys perfectly: browned on the outside, moist and tender inside.

Served with grilled vegetables, green salad, California Pinot Noir.

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