anthony’s easter bunny

It almost seems heresy to have bunny rabbit for Easter dinner. In fact, eating rabbit is not a very common practice in the United States at all. Considering their ability to multiply, there should not be a supply problem. Yet the low demand for the furry creature keeps its price tag high, and, while not prohibitive, it is certainly far more expensive than chicken, which many say is what it tastes like anyway.

Beyond the long ears, distinctive nose, and fuzzy tail, rabbit meat is mild in flavor, low in fat, and versatile—like chicken. But it is more difficult to cook without it tasting dry. The legs, both fore and aft, are nearly always tough, which is why longer, wet-heat cooking techniques, like braising, seem to work best. The recipe for Braised Rabbit with Olives discusses this technique.

The recipe here is based on Anthony Bourdain’s Easter Bunny, which I tried to jot down while watching his preparation on the Travel Channel on cable TV. I know I missed a few ingredients and portion amounts, but what I fixed, as directed below, was so excellent that I didn’t bother to search for the exact recipe.

  • 2½ lb rabbit, cut in 8 pieces.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced ½”
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp dry thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp dry rosemary leaves
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • <salt> and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp <butter>
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 oz red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh black cracked peppercorns

In a large bowl combine rabbit pieces, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and wine. Marinate for 2 hours.

Remove rabbit from marinade, strain the liquid from the vegetables, and reserve these for later.

Pat the meat dry and season to taste with <salt> and pepper. Dredge in flour. Put the olive oil and <butter> in a large Dutch oven, heat, and sauté the meat until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes a side. Remove legs to a bowl lined in paper towels. Discard the dredging flour.

Add the vegetables to the empty pot and cook on high heat until browned and caramelized. Stir in the tomato paste and flour, mix well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, and cook for one minute. Stir in the vinegar and the reserved marinade liquid and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the pot is thickened and there is no further floury taste.

Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the rabbit and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, or until the meat is fork tender (see previous recipe). Remove the meat to a serving dish.

Liquefy the stock and vegetables using a stick blender until smooth. Correct the seasonings as necessary. Pour over the rabbit. Garnish with parsley and cracked pepper.

Serves 6.