I’ve always had an affinity for the flavor of rabbit. From wild Louisiana woodland hares to cottontails jiving in and out of the brush in Texas, the long-eared jumpers have long been a delicacy to me. I learned at a young age how to catch them in the crosshairs of my father’s .22 long rifle.
Rabbit is often an overlooked protein. Even when people think about game animals, duck, venison, and quail steal the spotlight from rabbits. I’m guilty of overlooking them myself, but times are changing. Rabbit, whether wild or farm-raised, provides a good alternative to chicken in many respects. The lean white meat has a mild flavor that takes on seasonings well.
A few restaurants around Baton Rouge are cooking coney. You can find rabbit stewed slowly in a fricassee by Chef Nathan Gresham at Beausoleil Restaurant and Bar, wrapped up in Chef Ryan André’s Rabbit Debris Spring Rolls at City Pork Brasserie and Bar, or fried like chicken at Chef Cody and Sam Carroll’s Hot Tails in New Roads. No matter which way it is cooked, that rabbit is good eatin’!
Just the way fried chicken works well with a simmered pot of red beans, fried rabbit pairs beautifully with creamy white beans. Rabbit can be broken down into hind legs, torso, and front shoulder cuts to help even out the cooking process. Marinating the meat will tenderize its lean muscle fibers, and seasoned flour gives the rabbit a lovely crunch. Served alongside smoked tasso-laced navy beans, you’ve got quite the dish on your hands.
- 2 cups whole buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 2 whole rabbits, cut into 6 serving pieces
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground ancho chile powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- Smoked Tasso White Beans (recipe follows)
- Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
- In a large mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, thyme, parsley, garlic powder, and hot sauce. Add rabbit, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 4 inches; heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°.
- In a large resealable plastic bag, combine flour, paprika, chile powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Seal, and shake to mix evenly. Add rabbit; seal, and shake again until rabbit is coated.
- Fry rabbit, in batches, turning after 8 minutes, and cook 5 minutes more or until golden brown and a meat thermometer registers 165°. Larger pieces, like the hind legs, will take longer to cook. Let drain on paper towels. Serve with Smoked Tasso White Beans; garnish with parsley, if desired.
- ½ pound dried white or navy beans
- ½ pound tasso ham, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a large Dutch oven, add beans and water to cover by 2 inches. Let stand for 8 hours. Drain.
- In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add tasso. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until browned. Remove tasso, and set aside. To Dutch oven, add oil, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in wine, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan.
- Add beans and enough water to cover. Add tasso, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and starting to break apart. For creamier beans, mash some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove bay leaves before serving.