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Buttermilk Brined Rabbit
There are many ways to eat a rabbit. Similar to chicken in many ways, the rabbit needs a little more care and attention as it is not coated in the fatty skin and can easily dry out. My go-to is a fennel and hard cider braise but this week, I felt inspired to try something new. After cutting the rabbit into manageable chunks (see this tutorial to learn how to do that) I seasoned it well and soaked it in a flavorful buttermilk brine. This brine helps to infuse the lean rabbit meat with fat and flavor so it doesn’t dry out while cooking. After an hour or two in the buttermilk brine, I whipped up a quick corn flour breading, heated up some frying oil and went to town. The resulting fried rabbit was crispy, juicy and not the least bit dry or tough. Served with a heaping pile of braised collard greens and bright salad of sungold tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh dill, it made the ideal summer meal.
Buttermilk Fried Rabbit:
1 whole Wagonhoffer Meat’s rabbit cut into 8 pieces
2 cups buttermilk
4 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne
4 bay leaves
1 pt. Frying oil (canola, safflower, avocado, peanut, rice bran or lard)
1 cup Moondog’s Farm Cornflour
After your rabbit is cut into manageable chunks, place it in a large metal bowl and salt each piece generously. Toss the rabbit to make sure it is all evenly coated in salt. Cover the rabbit with buttermilk and add 2 Tbsp paprika, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp onion powder and crumbled bay leaves. Mix well to combine. The rabbit can sit in this marinade for up to 4 hours. I cooked mine after an hour and half and it was lovely.
Prepare your breading: in a large mixing bowl, combine together 1 cup Moondogs Corn Flour with 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 tbsp kosher salt and the remaining spices. Mix well.
Make sure the buttermilk soaked rabbit is at room temperature before you start cooking.
Line a sheet tray with newspaper, paper towel or paper bags. This is where you will set the pieces of rabbit when they are done frying and will absorb any excess oil and keep the rabbit nice and crispy!
Warm up your oil over medium high heat until a drop of flour sizzles immediately when placed in it. The rabbit hind legs take the longest so I like to fry them first. Pull them out of the buttermilk and drop them in the breading. Use your hands to press the flour into the meat coating it evenly. Carefully pull the meat from the breading and place it into the hot oil. It should not spit but bubble away. Fry for about 10 minutes on each side. You want the rabbit to be deeply golden brown on both sides. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature for the hind and forelegs should be about 165F. If the rabbit starts to burn before it is cooked through, remove from the oil and place it on a parchment lined sheet tray in a 325 F oven until it is cooked through.
Continue frying the rabbit, do not crowd the pan (I usually do 2-3 pieces at a time) breading each piece immediately before placing it in the oil. The loin sections will cook more quickly and will be done at an internal temp of 145F.
I made quick sauce for my fried rabbit by combining 2 Tbsp Mayo, 2 Tbsp whole milk yogurt, 2 Tbsp stone ground mustard, 1 tbsp hot sauce and a sprinkle of salt and a handful of freshly chopped dill. Goes perfectly with collard greens, chopped salad, coleslaw or potato salad!
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