From Gail’s Kitchen

The inspiration for this recipe came from the Top Market Rabbitry website (www.topmarketrabbitry.ca). Leslie Zinger’s recipe is simpler than this, so feel free to use it for a quicker, less fussy version. When I took my first taste of this roast rabbit, I could not get over how juicy and flavourful it was, with the added bonus of deliciously crispy skin. Although I’d eaten rabbit before, I’d never had it prepared in this way. A definite winner! I had also never used dry bread crumbs before in a meat stuffing; I used ShaSha Co.’s organic spelt bread crumbs, with excellent results.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Rabbit

1 4 to 5 pound fryer rabbit, giblets removed

1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Stuffing

3 cups dry or toasted bread crumbs

1 small apple, peeled, cored and diced

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves or 2 tsp ground or crumbled dried sage leaves

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, optional

½ tsp kosher salt, plus more if needed

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed

¼ tsp dried marjoram

¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

¼ tsp dried savoury, optional

¼ tsp dried thyme

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

1 small onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup water

Prepare the rabbit: Place the rabbit into a large roasting pan. Spread the butter evenly over the whole outer surface of the rabbit. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper. Lay the rabbit breast-side (open cavity) up; set aside. Cut five or six 9-inch lengths of kitchen twine; set aside.

Make the stuffing: In a medium bowl, toss together the bread crumbs, apple, sage, parsley (if using), salt, pepper, marjoram, nutmeg, savoury (if using) and thyme; set aside. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion mixture to the bread crumb mixture and toss well. Add the broth and toss well.

Stuff the rabbit: Spoon about one-half of the stuffing mixture over the length of the open cavity of the rabbit. Using your fingers, gently pull the two sides of the cavity together to check if there is room for more stuffing.  Add some more stuffing and check again. Repeat as required. Pull the two sides of the cavity together at one end. Using the cut kitchen twine, tie the cavity closed. Repeat every two to three inches with the remaining twine until the length of the cavity is closed. Place any leftover stuffing into an ovenproof dish, add enough broth to moisten it well, and cook alongside the rabbit for about 30 minutes.

Roast the rabbit: Pour the water around the rabbit in the pan. Cover the pan with foil. Roast the rabbit in a 350º F oven for 90 minutes, basting after 45 minutes. Uncover the pan; baste the rabbit. Increase the heat to 400º F.  Cook until the rabbit is deep golden brown and tender, 30 to 60 minutes.  Allow the rabbit to rest for about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the twine. Carve off the legs and cut slices through the stuffed mid-section.

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