How to Cook an Easter Bunny
By Elena Ferretti
Published April 19, 2011
Variations of brown sugar bourbon-glazed ham or rosemary-garlic roasted lamb, warm, billowy biscuits and roasted root vegetables grace traditional Easter tables, and thankfully so. If you want to go beyond the merely traditional but keep close to the holiday’s theme, consider rabbit. After learning how good they are for you and how great they taste, you may just want Peter Cottontail to ditch the bunny trail and hop on into your Dutch oven.
Rabbit is leaner than chicken, veal or turkey, with less fat and cholesterol. It has half the calories per pound compared to beef and pork and is the most easily digestible protein around. Since it’s both abundant and ubiquitous, low consumption has little to do with availability and lots to do with Thumper (a Cottontail) and Bugs (probably a Lop-Eared Gray.)
“Some people just can’t get beyond that mindset,” says Stephen Edwards. His Aspen Hill Farms in Boyne City, Michigan supplies local three- and four-star resorts and sells nationally through U.S. Wellness Meats. “I’ve had my rump chewed any number of times by people who say, ‘That’s not an appropriate food.’” He just holds his tongue and keeps his cool.
“Speaking for ‘the top of the mitt,’ here in Northern Michigan, there are two types of people who don’t bat an eyelash at eating rabbits,” he says. “Good old country boys, and people who enjoy food. We’ll just call them ‘foodies.’” No one’s going to serve up a Flemish Giant or a Holland Lops, he says of two popular pet breeds.
The Fryer, the Californian and the New Zealand White (it’s actually American) were genetically developed and are specifically raised as meat rabbits. They have good meat-to-bone-ratios, meatier legs, longer spines and grow faster than pet breeds.
Because rabbits mature fast they spend less time on earth than cows or pigs and have no time to accumulate toxins. They reproduce quickly and are grown without hormones or antibiotics. They can be entirely raised on alfalfa, clover or grass, making them a non-competitive species with humans - i.e. they don’t eat what we eat. Simply put, they’re very clean meat.