About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Butchering Rabbits

We used to raise rabbits for meat here on the ranch.  Once we overcame our initial start-up difficulties and converted to a "colony-style" system of raising them we ended up being so successful with them that we soon got overwhelmed.  The expression "breeding like rabbits" is more than just a cute saying.  We were butchering out 20-30 rabbits a month from just 4 breeding does and one buck.  It was crazy.  How much rabbit can 2 people eat? A lot, it turns out (especially once you run out of freezer space!).
Doomed by success, we soon got weary of the whole thing and sold off the breeding stock, getting out of rabbits all together.  That was almost 10 years ago.
It took a few years but we eventually came to miss fresh rabbit meat.  Not long ago we made friends with a very nice couple who live a few miles from us who raised rabbits to sell so, from time to time, we again had the opportunity to eat rabbit.  A few weeks ago they told us they too were getting out of the rabbit business and asked if we wanted a few of their older breeding does to butcher.  We worked out a trade: four rabbits for a couple of goat wethers and a duck drake.
The does were beautifully healthy, well-kept and quite large.  We put them in an enclosed area of the chicken coop we usually use for chick brooding for a few days until we could make time for a butchering day.  Butchering rabbits is a little different than poultry and quite different than butchering larger animals so here's a brief, fairly complete (ie graphic) photo essay on the subject.  Kathryn and I work as a team on this.  We are very efficient and and it goes very fast.
Fetch the Rabbit
Stun/Kill the rabbit with a quick, decisive blow to the back of the head
Remove head and allow the rabbit to bleed out fully

Skinning #1

Skinning #2
Skinning #3

Skinning #4

Gutting (do not puncture the innards!)

The Good Stuff (heart, kidneys, liver (bile duct still needs to be removed)

Cut up into sections: 2 leg/thighs, 2 front "quarters", 1 loin per rabbit

Pan o' rabbit parts, ready for frying/stewing etc.

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