It was 600 AD, and Pope Gregory ruled that rabbits could be eaten during Lent, apparently because baby rabbits resemble fish. After this interesting decree it’s not too surprising that rabbits became popular as a food source in monasteries. Domestic rabbits spread from the monasteries into the villages, where they were usually tended by children and by 1700 rabbits were all the culinary rage.
With that interesting primer it now looks that rabbit could be the food of the future. Touted for years by food activists these fluffy herbivores eat alfalfa instead of energy-intensive soy or fish meal, grow quickly and thrive in clean, disease-free conditions and it's a meat source that has its advantages. It's a lean protein that's low in cholesterol.
We found out that rabbit can break down relatively quickly in the sous vide environment. Apparently is has something to do with the sugar/glycogen in the musculature that gets converted into lactic acid which inhibits the cooking process. Regardless of that ( I’m a cook not a chemist!) we have found that a regulated temperature of 139°F/59°C for 45 minutes to a maximum of 1 hour is perfect for this future food. Some chefs have found it easier and more consistent to forgo the whole rabbit and use just the prized hind legs. Either way, my Chicken Fried Rabbit is some mighty good eating!
For the brine:
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, fine grind
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
- 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 2 1/2 pounds whole rabbit, portioned into 6-8 pieces?
- 4 whole bay leaves
For the batter:
- Reserved cooking liquid from rabbit, or poultry broth as needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, fine grind, or to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
- 1 medium lemon juice, freshly squeezed, or to taste
- 1/4 cup masa harina/corn flour
- 1/4 cup Wondra flour
- As needed peanut oil
Preheat the SV1 to 139°F/59°C
For the brine:
- In a large bowl mix the salt, sugar and hot sauce with the water stirring constantly until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
- Place the portioned rabbit into a bowl sized to fit into the VacMaster® chamber machine with the marinade function like the VP112S.
- Set the marinade controls to 9 and press start. Each marinade cycle takes 9 minutes this will take 81 minutes or 1 hour and 35 minutes. (This brief marinade function will replace 12 hours (overnight) of standard refrigerated brining.)
- Remove the rabbit from the brine, using an appropriate size VacMaster® bag(s) add the rabbit and the bay leaves, vacuum pack and seal.
- Place in the water bath of the SV1 and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
For the Batter:
- Remove the rabbit from the bags and reserve the cooking liquid; you should have approximately 1/2 a cup.
- Set up your deep fryer according to your manufactures directions or pour the peanut oil into a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot (the oil should be at least 3 to 4 inches deep). Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer.
- Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels or fit it with a wire cooling rack and set aside.
- Add the salt, hot pepper sauce and the lemon juice to the reserved rabbit cooking liquid and blend thoroughly.
- In a large bowl combine the masa harina corn flour and Wondra and using the flavored cooking liquid to make a thin batter. If you are short on liquid for the batter feel free to use a bit of poultry broth or water.
- Add the cooked rabbit to the bowl and gently toss to coat each piece with a thin layer of batter.
- Fry the rabbit in the oil, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 375°F, until the batter golden brown and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove to the prepared baking sheet to drain, about 3 minutes.
- Repeat: Working in batches, using the remaining rabbit.
- Serve immediately with your favorite sides.