Corned (salted) rabbit

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avdpas77

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We raise a bunch of rabbits each year, and while we sell or give away some of them, we consume most of them ourselves. Since we eat rabbit so often, we are often looking for different ways to prepare it. We especially like it in stews, but they aren’t really summer fare.

As we normally process 16 to 25 at a time, our usual practice is to separate the front legs, back legs, and loins into separate packages, as they all cook quite differently. The ribs, and other remaining pieces, we all boil at processing time and make a large batch of soup stock.

My DW is a big fan of ham, and I like corned beef quite a bit (salt beef to those of you in the other parts of the world). I had a recipe to prepare corned beef and we decided to try it on rabbit. A few months ago, we had a small batch of about 15 rabbits, and we took all the main pieces and processed them using the corned beef recipe. It was terrific. After curing, we went ahead and boiled all the pieces in minimal water, separated from the bone, packed in 24 oz cottage cheese cartons, and put in the freezer.
Actually this is too much for a meal for the both of us, so it is good for a couple of days. The 12 oz cartons might be better, but whatever one uses, Cool-Whip cartons, whipped butter cartons, zip-lock bags or the like will work fine.

I decided to post the recipe here. We did make some modifications to the recipe which came off the web years ago. The curing solution is for 1 gallon of liquid, which is likely twice as much as you will need. In the original recipe 5 teaspoons of “pink curing salt” (Prague powder) was used, we cut that down to two and a half. The stuff can be toxic in very large doses, and some people are allergic to it, so if you can’t eat ham or corned beef, or if red food color gives you headaches don’t use it. It is not completely necessary, but the meat will end up a gray color and not be near as good. 2-3 teaspoons worked for us just fine.

So, on with the recipe:

Brine

1 gallon of water
2 cups of kosher or any non iodized salt
2 ½ teaspoons of pink curing salt
3 tablespoons of pickling spice (preferably in a cotton sachet bag)
½ cup of brown sugar.

Put the mixture into a large (preferably stainless steel) pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and wait till the brine has reached room temperature. Put the cut-up pieces of rabbit in a large bowl or crock and cover with the brine (unless you have a bunch of rabbit like we did, you probably won’t need the whole gallon; it will keep unrefrigerated in jars.) Put a plate, bowl or saucer on top to hold the meat under the brine mixture, you may need some added weight on top of the plate. Cover and put in the fridge. If you are making corned beef instead of rabbit, you can use a large zip lock bag (with all the air pressed out) but rabbit will pierce the bag. Place the covered bowl in the refrigerator for 7 days.

If it is a beef roast or brisket, drain and then package in the normal way for the freezer. If it is rabbit, it is better to drain it, and cook all of it right away.

Cooking directions;

Place the drained rabbit in a pan and place enough (fresh) water in to cover it (do not add any salt). Put another sachet with about 2 tablespoons of pickling spice in with the meat ( I simply add more to the one left over from the brine). Bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down until the pot is barely simmering. Cook until the meat is very tender or close to falling off the bone. This process can be used on very old rabbits also! It may take less time than you think as the brine process tenderizes the meat.

When the meat is tender, drain and debone the rabbit. Cut any long muscle fibers, such as in the back legs, cross wise a couple of times. Pull apart the loin meat into pieces, you don’t want big chunks. When you are finished, take a cup of the boiling liquid, and just add enough to the bowl so the meat has a some moisture. Put in your freezing container, and you are ready to go.

We love the stuff. It can be mixed with eggs for an omelet, cooked with cabbage etc. like traditional corned beef. By far, though, our favorite way to eat it is toasted, on rye bread, with swiss cheese and a little thousand island dressing. (Think Reuben without the sauerkraut)
 

Frecs

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Would it be possible to can it? Say, after the 7 days of brining, to debone, put in jars, add fresh water & pickling spice, and pressure can?

Now, have you also tried to make pastrami with rabbit? That's what I'd LOVE to be able to do!
 

avdpas77

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Haven't tried to make pastrami, but I think one could. We don't have a pressure canner, so I can't can meat and some vegetables; pretty much stuck with tomatoes, kraut, and pickles.
 
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