We have a friend who saw that Whole Foods had whole rabbits and bought one on a whim. When he was over carving pumpkins with us, it came up. (I mean, it stayed in the freezer, still dead. The topic came up). And we agreed that I should cook it to prevent a twice killed rabbit disaster.
I've never cooked rabbit before at all, let alone a whole one, so I did some Googling to get me started. All of the recipes that I found looked incredibly delicious, but also like more work than I felt like putting into it. They had you removing things from the pot, and adding things to the pot, and putting things back into the pot, and straining things (which I really hate- especially since I don't have a strainer here).
Oh, and they had you break the rabbit down into pieces. No thanks. I'm not particularly squeamish about such things, but I also don't think it'd be fun to wrestle with a dead rabbit as I chop it apart (my knives here are not very sharp).
So after getting a few ideas from various recipes, I did things my way, which is what I tend to like to do. And this is what I came up with.
I served it with arugula dressed in a tangy homemade vinaigrette and roasted potatoes, carrots, and parsnips.
What you need:
1 (3 pound) rabbit
1 1/2 tablespoons butter (mine was salted)
3-4 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half (or minced, but I like the larger chunks of garlic in a slow cooked stew like this)
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 red wine
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt (and maybe more, to taste)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, larger ones cut in half, small kept whole
4 strips bacon
2-3 tablespoons flour
Remove giblets from chest cavity if yours came with them. Chop them finely.
Heat butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Place rabbit in the pot and let sear for 3-4 minutes, Flip the rabbit over and let the other side sear for another 3-4 minutes. Make sure that the rabbit has achieved a nice dark brown sear before adding the next ingredients.
Add the celery, onion, garlic, and chopped giblets (if you have them). Saute for 4-6 minutes, or until they have a little brown on them. (If you want, you can take the rabbit out of the pot for a few minutes as the vegetables saute. I left it in there though, you just have to stir around on it to saute the veggies.) Add the wine and deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up any brown from the bottom of the pan.
Add the rosemary sprigs, water, and salt. Push the rabbit down so that as much of it is submerged as possible. It's fine if some of it is sticking up above the liquid. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Let simmer for about an hour, flipping it halfway through.
Add the mushrooms. Let simmer for about another hour. The rabbit should be starting to fall apart when it is done. Remove the rosemary sprigs (or stems if the leaves have fallen off).
Once the rabbit is basically done, fry up the bacon in a saucepan. Once the bacon is cooked, drain on a paper towel. Dispose of about half of the grease, keeping the rest in the frying pan. Add a little (about a 1/4 or 1/3 cup) of the rabbit broth to the bacon grease. Over low heat, whisk the flour into this.
Remove the rabbit from the pot and place into a shallow serving dish. Add the flour/bacon grease/broth mixture into the rest of the vegetables and broth. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes, or until thickened. Pour over the rabbit in the serving dish.