preparing a rabbit for the table

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Preparing a wild animal for eating is a survival skill which, you may think is worth having, and the procedure given here for preparing a rabbit, is basically the same for all animals.

For the sake of simplicity, lets assume that we are going to prepare a young doe rabbit, as older rabbits especially bucks can be difficult to skin and can be tough to eat. Let us also assume that it has been gutted.1.

Preparing the rabbit can be broken down into roughly four parts which are.

  • Skinning
  • Butchering
  • Soaking
  • Cooking


As this part of the operation can be messy You can elect to do it outside weather permitting, and it should be carried out on an impervious surface ie polythene or a worktop. do not use newspaper as the print is very difficult to remove from the meat. A plastic "builders rubble" type bag can be used.

Lay the rabbit on its back, head towards you and on the left side of the opening that it was gutted through, start to separate the skin from the meat, it's not dissimilar from opening a book. Work round to the other side untill you have seperated the meat from the skin right round.

Put your 2left hand under the skin and grip the rabbit. It should be quite easy using the other hand to peel off the rest of the skin.

You will find that it is still attached at the head,legs and tail. These can be removed with a pair of kitchen scissors3or a sharp knife, do however be carefull, as unless you remove the legs at the joint not only the knife, but the bones will also be very sharp.

You should now wash your rabbit to remove any blood and fluff that is sticking to it, and finally dry it using kitchen paper or a cloth.


You can now put your washed and dried rabbit on a chopping board,and you will notice that there are two flaps of loose skin either side these can be removed and put to one side. Run a sharp knife round the back of the rabbit just below the ribs, and you can quite easily seperate the two pieces by twisting in opposite directions, next remove the front legs, you will find that the front legs aren't in fact connected to the skeleton and can be removed with your knife, without resorting to bone breaking.

If you now take the rear half and lay it on your board belly up, legs facing you, you will see a hole where the connections from the rabbits insides got to the outside. Your knife should be layed along this and, by pressing on top you should be able to break through it, and any remaining yucky bits can be removed. Run your knife round the back just in front of the rear legs, and once again this can be removed using a twisting motion. Finally the rear legs can be seperated down the centre using your knife, watch your fingers.

You should now have six pieces of rabbit, however the ribcage can be put with the pieces removed earlier. If you want to use these pieces they can be boiled to make stock, however for the methods used here the amount of meat on them is minimal and they can be discarded leaving, two rear legs, two front legs and a section of back.


This stage is not strictly necessary. It does however give the meat a "supermarket"look by making the meat paler. Simply place the pieces of rabbit in a bowl, and cover with cold water to which a tablespoon of salt has been added, then leave overnight. You could however use any marinade you liked, and in fact replace chicken with rabbit in most recipes. It cannot be stressed enough however that you need a young rabbit to compete with supermarket chickens which are normally killed at six weeks old and unless the rabbit is young, cooking times will be considerably longer.


If your preference is fried rabbit, then this is how to prepare it.

Put the rabbit in a large boiling pan with an onion and carrots, cover with water and boil untill tender. The rabbit can be tested periodically with a pointed knife. The meat can then be removed, placed on a plate and allowed to cool. The water complete with onions and carrots can be discarded, however it could be incorporated into other dishes if you so wished.

Once cold the rabbit can be given any coating you like from breadcrumbs to southern fried chicken style coating. The meat is low in fat and if you use a healthy oil such as olive oil to carry out the frying the only thing you have to watch is calories, rabbit and skinned chicken have approximately the same calorific value.

1Unlike some game, hares and pheasants for example, rabbits should be gutted soon after death as the meat can Quickly become tainted, particular care being taken not to get urine on the meat.2You may want to reverse this if you are left handed.3The head is best removed by cutting round the neck with a sharp knife, then dislocating the vertibrae with a twisting motion.

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