Rabbit remains a specialty meat in the U.S., although it is more common in other countries such as Italy and France. Farm-raised rabbit is mild in flavor and lean, which makes it extra-healthy but sometimes tricky to cook. The best methods use moist heat so that the meat never has a chance to dry out. Rabbit takes well to strong flavors so don't be shy about the seasoning.
Wild Versus Domestic
Both wild rabbit and domestic rabbit can be cooked with moist heat. There are only a handful of differences between the two. For one, wild rabbit is smaller than domestic rabbit. The meat of wild rabbit has a stronger flavor and is also even leaner than its domestic counterpart. And, of course, wild rabbit can be difficult to find unless you hunt or have a hunting friend. Domestic rabbit can be found in upscale butcher's cases near the poultry.
Butchering Your Rabbit
You can cook your rabbit whole but for many presentations it's convenient to cut it up into parts. Sectioning a rabbit carcass is similar to separating a chicken into parts. Lay the rabbit on its back and separate each hind leg, then each foreleg. You will be left with a bony rib cage and a "saddle," both attached to the spine. Cut away the rib cage and discard or save for stock. Cut the saddle in half along the spine. If you like, you can then cut each saddle piece crosswise until you have four saddle quarters plus four legs total.
Once you have sectioned your rabbit, you can choose to braise it. Braising involves partially submerging the meat in a flavorful liquid. You can braise rabbit in chicken stock, hard or soft cider, beer or white or red wine. Enhance the flavor of the braise with additions such as onions and garlic, root vegetables, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon or mustard. Serve the braise with bread or over rice, noodles or polenta.
Alternatively, you can stew your rabbit parts. Stewing differs from braising in that the meat is completely submerged in its cooking liquid. Use chicken stock for the base; you can also add wine or cider vinegar for flavor. Other worthy additions include pearl onions, olives and root vegetables such as turnips. Season the stew with juniper or rosemary and serve with boiled potatoes or noodles on the side, along with a green vegetable such as brussels sprouts.