Friday, July 31, 2009

Rabbit: The other white meat

(photo by Tiffany Smith)
Braised Rabbit/English Pea & Ricotta Ravioli/ Parm Broth/ Fresh Summer Truffles/Pea Shoot Salad

Rabbit you don't see it on many menus......its a shame. Here are some facts to maybe persuade you to think about adding it to your menu.

Fresh or frozen, rabbit meat is sold all year round. It can be used in most of the ways in which chicken is used. Like other lean meat, poultry, and fish, rabbit meat is a good source of high quality protein. The meat is fine grained and mild flavored. Rabbits sold in the United States for food are commonly crosses between New Zealand and Belgian varieties, imported Chinese rabbits, or Scottish hares.

Among meats, rabbit is a healthful choice. Agriculture Department statistics show that rabbit meat is lower in saturated fat than beef and pork and slightly lower in cholesterol than chicken. The breeds used for meat (commonly California, New Zealand or a cross of the two) are almost twice the size of typical pet rabbits.

We buy our Rabbits from D'Artagnan. Farms that sell rabbits to D'Artagnan must sign a policy that requires humane treatment and slaughter. The rabbits receive no antibiotics and a vegetarian diet.

How are Rabbit Products Commonly Labeled?

Fryer or young rabbit—the terms "fryer" or "young rabbit" refer to a rabbit weighing not less than 1 ½ pounds and rarely more than 3 ½ pounds, and less than 12 weeks of age. The flesh is tender, fine grained, and a bright pearly pink color. These rabbits may be cooked in much the same way as young poultry.

Roaster or mature rabbit—the terms "roaster" or "mature rabbit" refer to a mature rabbit of any weight, but usually over 4 pounds and over 8 months of age. The flesh is firm and coarse grained, and the muscle fiber is slightly darker in color and less tender. The fat may be more creamy in color than that of a fryer or young rabbit. The meat of larger rabbits may be tougher so the best methods of cooking are braising or stewing.

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