Wild rabbits are an abundant source of sustainable meat, available throughout the year and unlike their fellow wild game pals – pheasant and deer, their breeding season isn’t protected. This falls down to their rapid population capabilities…ahem.
They’re considered a nuisance here in the UK and despite being small in size, can cause substantial damage to farmer’s crops when in large populations. One hungry little rabbit can eat roughly half a kilo of grass (young barley/wheat/seedlings) a day – the best part of 200kgs a year! You add his 9 fluffy friends, and over a year those 10 rabbits alone will have decimated almost an acre’s worth of grass, so to protect our crops population control is key!
We work closely with our hunters and stalkers, to ensure we know exactly where our animals are sourced from, when the animal was shot and how long it has been hung for. For the large part, the wild rabbit we consume and serve, is often shot on the Priory estate where we’re based. The connection from field to fork is one of our most important values here at The Salt Box. When sourcing game locally, another big win is the lower transport emissions – especially when compared with industrially produced meat.
As with all wild game, wild rabbit is a lean source of protein and lower in fat with a greater nutritional value than farmed meat. You can use it in soups, stews and pasta sauces – the meat has a tendency to dry out when cooked, so it’s best slow braised, especially with older rabbits as they tend to be tougher and harder to skin. Younger rabbits are better suited for roasting and frying.
Wild rabbit is relatively cheap, your local butchers are likely to sell the rabbit whole, gutted and skinned – ready for your homemade creations. It’s often likened to chicken, but is in fact much darker, with a light gamey flavour.
A match made in heaven (when in season) with prunes, apples, leeks, wild garlic, sage and plenty more seasonal veg and herbs. Below we’ll give you more hints and tips to try when cooking with wild rabbit.
When roasting, it’s advised to only use the saddle of wild rabbit, the other cuts fare much better in pot roasts and braises – aiming to serve roughly 250g of rabbit saddle as a portion (this is pretty much the whole saddle on most wild rabbits). As wild rabbit is such a lean meat, it’s best to roast it on the bone for flavour, keeping it as moist as possible.
Here at The Salt Box we have an Italian influence within some of our menus and cookery courses. Our passion for Italian inspired cookery stems from co-founder Beckie’s childhood in Lombardy, Northern Italy, where she inherited a deep culinary appreciation for the country’s approach to quality, seasonal ingredients and the focus on shared dining. Rabbit is hugely popular in Italy’s cuisine. Rabbit Cacciatore is a classic Italian dish, made with unboned rabbit meat cut into small pieces, marinated in vinegar and cooked in tomatoes and red wine. a great introduction to eating rabbit and well worth a try!
Below, you’ll find a selection of our favourite Rabbit recipes, including Rabbit Cacciatore and Rabbit White Pudding, along with a few from fellow chefs that we thoroughly recommend.
We love to see recreations of our dishes, so snap and tag us on Instagram and Facebook @thesaltboxuk
It’s often claimed that one of the stumbling blocks of introducing more game into one’s diet is that it’s difficult to get hold of. We’re firm believers that it’s worth hunting down (pun intended!).
If you’re sourcing from your local butcher, make sure you ask for wild rabbit, as you may be supplied with an imported, farmed rabbit – which is what we are trying to avoid when it comes to consuming game.
Below, you’ll find a handful of our local recommendations:
There are also a select number of reputable British companies you can source sustainable game from online:
It’s worth noting that when you purchase any wild game, even from the butcher, to check for shot – or you may face losing a chunk of tooth!
If you’re game to learn more about wild game, we host a range of butchery and cookery courses celebrating all things feathered and furred. Throughout the season, join us on our Wild Venison Butchery Course or our Feather and Fur Wild Game Butchery and Cookery Course, here in our Woodland Kitchen. Click here for Course Dates to join us in the woods.