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Rabbit meat is dry :(

 
pollinator
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I have a very permaculture-ish source of rabbit meat: it's very local, the bunnies have a great, healthy life (with more hay than my ex-horse had, at a boarding stable...), and buying it from the person who raises them definitely ticks off my "people care" box.
Also, it's very likely to be my favourite meat.
But, when I cooked it, while it tastes great, it's also dry and a little bit harder than I'd like it to be. Some parts had quite a lot of fat, but it's in lumps that are separate from the meat.
I know that people often use bacon to make other meats less dry, but currently I don't have any great source of bacon... and I'm the only meat eater in my homestead now, so I'd rather cook one type at a time and in smaller amounts.
Any tips?
 
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Any chance you overcooked it? Wild rabbit around here can be very good.
 
Flora Eerschay
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Perhaps...? I was cooking it rather long, much like lamb.
 
pollinator
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I only have only cooked wild rabbit that friends shoot for me and I always brine them overnight to draw the blood and help tenderise them - don't understand the science behind it but certainly seems to work. They are always cooked in a long slow braise, marinated in white wine with lots of crushed garlic, pan fried in lots of olive oil until golden brown, then cooked slowly in the marinade with bay leaves, thyme, shallots, sometimes I add prunes, olives, brown sugar and vinegar, other times just plain. Tomato is good too. It is fall off the bone tender and if I can be bothered deboning, serve with pasta and salad, else pieces with mashed potatoes and greens. Lots of sauce and crusty bread to mop up the gravy.
 
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I think it's classic crockpot food- cooked in liquid for a long time. Could be a stew, chili, etc.

If you want to have a faster use like in a stir fry, you might make out better using a Chinese-type method- slice it real thin, marinade it with a little oil and a little salt (among whatever else you use to season it) and then sear it fast. I have found that works well even for the toughest cuts of meat.
 
Flora Eerschay
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Megan Palmer wrote:I only have only cooked wild rabbit that friends shoot for me and I always brine them overnight to draw the blood



I was wondering how do they remove blood from game animals that are shot.

Tereza Okava wrote:I think it's classic crockpot food- cooked in liquid for a long time.



Maybe I could cook it in my solar kitchen? We only have rainy days recently so I didn't really make it work yet, but I was planning to start with some slow cooking soup.
 
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I can't add anything substantively to Megan's answer except to emphasize the underlying principle: lots of oil, acid, and slow cooking.  Yes, brining first also helps.

I live in an area of the world where fat animals are virtually non-existent; it's all dry. One method I use often is to cut the meat into small chunks, maybe 2 inches, and deep fry them, or at least fry them in a good amount of oil. Then I slow stew them in meat broth. The goal is to stew them in just barely enough broth to cover them. That way the oils, flavor, and moisture, all gets concentrated in the meat as it cooks down. Also, wine.
 
pollinator
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The Zuni Cafe cookbook by Judy Rodgers has an excellent section on rabbit. How to butcher it, how each section should be treated. Basically, the two tapered loins can be roasted or grilled (not braised). But most of the rest of it is better braised. And little tough bits are great for rillettes, sausage or confit. Maybe you could remove the fatty bits and render them for said rillettes or confit. Or if braised in liquid, maybe shred the meat after it's cooked into the liquid, so you are not getting dry chunks.
 
pollinator
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Have you tried a pressure cooker?
 
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I almost always barbecued my young (6ish lbs) rabbit and it was tender and moist.  It's a meat you don't want to overcook.

My cull rabbits were tougher, but still moist, though not as moist as the young ones.  This may be a record on Permies for most uses of the word moist in a post.
 
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Ditto to what everyone above has said: either cook it to an internal temp of just 155 degrees or so, or cook it for a LOOOONG time in a moist environment (crockpot, braising).  As you set the meat aside to rest, the internal temp will raise to 160 -- perfect.

If you cook it to 175 or higher, it'll be tough and stringy.  Cook rabbit like you would a lean pork loin or chicken breast.  Anything higher than 160 is going to dry it out and make it tough.  

People tend to freak with wild game -- or even "non-standard" livestock (like rabbits) that have been raised for consumption.  The fear is tularemia or some other such concern.  But if you harvest the rabbits in the winter, you're generally safe from tularemia.
 
pollinator
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Timothy Markus wrote:IMy cull rabbits were tougher, but still moist, though not as moist as the young ones.  This may be a record on Permies for most uses of the word moist in a post.



In this context, we will forgive you for speaking moistly. :-)
 
Flora Eerschay
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Marco Banks wrote:People tend to freak with wild game -- or even "non-standard" livestock (like rabbits) that have been raised for consumption.  The fear is tularemia or some other such concern.



What! I didn't know about tularemia... but I tried to keep it clean.
 
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Do an internet search for Rabbit Recipes. My favourite is Rabbit Cacciatore, like Chicken Cacciatore, only better. Don't cook at too high a temperature. long and slow is better. Crock pots/slow cookers are ideal for rabbit. Remember that even domestic rabbits have very little fat compared to other meats and is mostly sub-cutaneous. If pan frying use a lot of butter, lard or oil. The lack of fat in muscles is what led to "rabbit starvation". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_poisoning
 
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