Italian Braised Leg of Rabbit

I’m relieved and happy to report that my files were recovered! YAY! 🙂

And in other news, I tasted rabbit for the first time on Sunday – and it was delicious!

For those that don’t know, we recently started raising rabbits for meat. Having learned of the many negative aspects of industrialized farming through powerful documentaries like Food, Inc. (available on Netflix), we have made the choice to no longer purchase our meat from traditional grocery stores. Our freezer is full of wild game and now rabbit. We have also purchased grass-fed beef and pork from a local farm last summer but prefer the wild game. When it runs out later this spring or summer, we’ll be searching out local or online sources for grass-fed and pastured meats again. (US Wellness Meats, who also sell rabbit meat, and Tropical Traditions to name two.)

Those that know me know that I did not grow up on a farm and that I’m an animal lover, so this experience of raising animals for food is new for me. I was uncertain of the process and how it would affect me. I’ve always known (of course) that the meat purchased in the store came from animals, but like most people, I was completely disconnected from what those animals went through, how they were raised, slaughtered, etc. The first time Don brought home a deer, I had a difficult time helping process the meat but I knew I enjoyed eating it and I had to face the grim reality of the process or decide not to eat meat, which really wasn’t an option. I am a meat eater. Still, when he brings home deer it’s already just large hunks of meat, doesn’t look like the animal, and I’m still somewhat distanced from the death and initial processing which he does in the field. That suits me fine.

However, we are now raising rabbits that have to be processed from the very first step right on our doorstep. Don and I made a deal early on, partly due to schedules, partly due to each person’s strengths, that I would provide the daily care, feeding, watering, and cleaning, we would share the large scale cleaning of cages when possible, and he would handle the processing. He did do the worst of the dirty work on Sunday but I was not completely shielded from the process. I stayed busy cleaning cages but afterwards, I helped clean the pelts and saw the discarded bits. It was a little hard to face but the hardest part for me is the death and initial dressing out. I’m not sure I can ever be part of that. Before we started to set up I teared up (just a little) thinking of what was to come, and later when we had all the materials and things ready, I said my goodbyes and thanked the bunnies for their gift of life. It may sound silly to some but it is important to me. Afterwards, I helped package the portioned pieces – just like I do with deer and wild hog; it’s really not much different than buying meat in bulk at the grocery store and separating it into smaller portions before freezing.

We also made our first meal of rabbit, braised rabbit leg. I had no trouble eating my dinner, although I did wake up in the middle of the night with images from the afternoon swirling around in my mind and disrupting my well being. I had to get up and do a few things to distract myself before I could get back to sleep. Some of you might think this silly. I can’t quite explain it myself. How do you reconcile the fact that you are a meat eater and yet feel torn about the death of the animal feeding you? All I can do is hope that it will get easier with time.

Italian Braised Leg of Rabbit
Adapted from Braised Rabbit posted on AmericanFood.about.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 rabbit legs
  • salt and fresh ground pepper as needed
  • olive oil for frying
  • ¼ sweet onion, diced
  • ½ celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic chili paste
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup tomato paste – and we added a little chopped tomato too
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp parsley

Preparation:

Season meat generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper. In a heavy pot, (we use our wok) heat the oil on medium-high and brown the meat well on all sides.

Once brown, set the meat aside in crock pot. (The original recipe used a Dutch oven but we don’t have one so we improvised.)

Add the onions, celery, garlic paste, and 1 tsp salt to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the wine and vinegar. Boil wine mixture for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Combine well.

Add mixture to the crock pot. Cook on high for 2 hours, or until meat is fork tender. When tender to your liking, sprinkle with parsley and allow the meat to rest for 15 – 20 minutes. (We turned the crock pot off, took off the lid, and left it in the pot while it rested to keep it warm while we finished our side dishes.)

Serve topped with braising liquid.

I think it’s one of the most important battles for consumers to fight: the right to know what’s in their food, and how it was grown.
~ Joel Salatin

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3 comments

  1. Looks yummy! Nothing happened at the doctor, they postponed it to this coming Friday. I’ll let you know after I go this time.
    Love,
    Dad

    Like

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