It may not be a modern meat choice, but rabbit-or hare was a familiar part of the Regency table, namely because they were plentiful and easy to catch.
If you are a fan of Jane Austen novels, you become familiar with the “seasons” observed by the gentry in her time. Families often spent their summers in London, attending balls, operas, and dinners. But in mid-August, they returned to their country estates for several months of “shooting season” where they would hunt game including birds, fox and rabbits.
I obtained my rabbit through less exciting means (thanks mom and dad!) but it is a really interesting meat to work with. Rabbits have no fat. Their meat is dark and tastes very much like chicken (insert joke here). They are delicious when properly prepared and because they are so unusual in the modern world, it can be an interesting dish to bring to table.
This recipe comes from “Cooking with Jane Austen” by Kristen Olsen. Here is the original version:
Skin it, take out the entrails, and put it over the fire a few minutes, with butter of fat, then lard and roast it, and when it is done serve it with sauce and vinegar, and pepper and salt, which should be served in a sauce-boat apart.
After reading through the modern version, I deemed the preparation too bland. I added the vegetables to give it some flavor when roasting.
The onion sauce smells horrible when cooking-thanks to the addition of the vinegar. I thought it was going to taste terrible. I put it in sauce dishes so my girls and I could dip the meat into it as we liked. Much to my surprise, it really was good! It’s a bit of a tang that really compliments the rabbit.
• 1 rabbit, cut into serving pieces
• ½ head of celery, particularly the leafy parts, which add more intense flavor, chopped
• 2 medium onions-one cut into fourths and the other diced
• 4 garlic cloves, diced
• 4 slices of bacon
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 2 cups beef broth
• ¾ cup white vinegar
• ½ tsp pepper
• 1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut your rabbit into serving pieces-I took off both legs and then sliced the breast and back, so I had about seven-eight small pieces in all.
In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the rabbit. Brown on all sides.
Meanwhile, place the celery, the quartered onion, and garlic in a roasting pan or dutch oven. When the rabbit is browned, pour the rabbit and butter on top of the vegetables. Cover with the bacon and add about ¼ cup water to the bottom of the pan.
Roast for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, place the diced onions, beef broth, vinegar, salt and pepper in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the rabbit is cooked through.
Note: if you’re really squeamish about eating rabbit, use chicken!