For many people celebrating Easter this weekend, Easter Sunday dinner means a feast of ham, or rack of lamb, or that old holiday standby, turkey. This year, why not try something different and delicious, like rabbit? If you’re the type who eschews chocolate bunnies, there is still the opportunity to indulge in a little bunny love, albeit of a more savory kind.
Used as a readily available and affordable meat source for millennia, with the first record of domestically farmed “rabbitry” coming from ancient Rome, rabbit is a great choice on so many levels. Here, courtesy of rabbit.web.com are just a few facts about this amazing, healthy and fecund animal:
–Rabbit has only 795 calories per pound, compared to Chicken at 810, Veal 840, Turkey 1190, Lamb 1420, Beef 1440 and Pork at 2050. So a typical four ounce portion weighs in at roughly 22 calories
-Rabbit is more filling and easier to digest than other meats, meaning less is needed per meal
-Cholesterol level in rabbit meat is much lower than chicken, turkey, beef, pork
-Rabbit meat has been used and is suitable for special diets, such as those for heart disease patients, diets for the aged, low sodium diets, weight reduction diets
– Adding rabbit meat to your meal plan gives you a big boost in vitamin B-12 — each 3-oz. serving provides 117.6 percent of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin B-12 plays a critical role in the function of your central nervous system and metabolism, as well as the formation of red blood cells. Your body has the ability to store a few years’ worth of vitamin B-12, so eating rabbit supplies you with not just your daily requirements, but a little extra as well.
– Rabbit also serves as a rich source of vitamin B3, containing 35.8 percent of the amount your need each day. This vitamin, commonly known as niacin, aids in converting carbohydrates to energy and manufacturing a variety of sex hormones.
-Rabbit meat contains selenium, a mineral your body uses to make antioxidants and stimulate sperm production; each 3-oz. portion of meat contains 46.8 percent of the recommended daily value of selenium. MedlinePlus reports that some physicians may recommend incorporating more selenium into your diet to combat hardening of the arteries, as well as cancers such as stomach, lung, prostate and skin cancer.
-A 3-oz. serving of rabbit also provides you with 22.4 percent of the phosphorus you need in your daily meal plan. This mineral accounts for 1 percent of your total body weight and influences your body’s ability to use carbohydrates and fats, as well as the repair of cells, tissues, bone metabolism and health
It is also worth mentioning that rabbit is also free of hormones and artificial growth stimulants. They are clean, quiet, and require less space, less grain and less water to raise than conventional livestock, thus are easier on the environment, especially considering that rabbits can be raised in small, clean, even urban spaces. And they are affordable, versatile and delicious, whether roasted or stewed, and in fact can be made into just about any recipe that calls for chicken. Here is one of our favourite recipes for rabbit, courtesy of Jamie Oliver.
note: in case you’re wondering where in the heck you’re going to have to go to source rabbit, the answer is simple – Fiesta Farms always has rabbit in the butcher case.
Spanish Rabbit Stew
2 small wild rabbits, jointed (if you’re using farmed rabbits, you might only need 1 as they tend to be larger)
3 garlic cloves, sliced lengthways
12 small red onions, peeled (you can use shallots, pearl onions or cipollini instead)
½ tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 x 250–300g jar roasted red peppers, drained
4 tbsp olive oil
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or cast-iron casserole over medium heat. Cook the rabbit pieces in batches, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or till browned, adding more oil if needed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
2. Add the garlic and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, till softened. Add the paprika and rosemary, season generously with sea salt and black pepper and stir well. Return the rabbit pieces to the pan, add the wine, cover with a folded piece of baking parchment, bring to the boil, then simmer for 1½–2 hours or until the rabbit is tender and the sauce has thickened, adding the peppers for the final 15 minutes. If you like a thicker sauce, remove the rabbit pieces, then boil the sauce rapidly to thicken. If you wish, you can shred the meat then return it to the stew, so that diners get both dark and light meat. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.