Rabbit is one of the easiest game animals for novices to work with, because of its compact size. Rabbit is easy to cut up and doesn't require a lot of complicated preparation, and ordinary methods are usually all that's required to cook it. Most chicken recipes can be adapted to use rabbit, though the meat is leaner and usually chewier than chicken. Young fryer rabbits can be fried or grilled, but slow cooking in a crock pot will make any rabbit tender and tasty.
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Bend the rabbit's hind legs backward until you hear the hips pop. With a sharp knife, trim the thigh meat away from the backbone and sever the tendon at the hip joint.
Use the tip of your knife to cut around the "shoulder" joint in the forequarters. Separate the joint with the tip of your knife, removing each foreleg in turn from the backbone.
Cut off the bony, nearly meatless hip section and the rib section, leaving just the 2 cylindrical loin muscles and belly meat attached to the backbone. You should now have 5 serving pieces: the back, or saddle, section; two meaty hind legs; and two thinner forelegs.
Heat a heavy skillet over moderately high heat. While the skillet is warming up, dredge the rabbit pieces in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into the hot skillet. Add the rabbit pieces and brown on all sides. Transfer the rabbit pieces to your preheated crock pot. Add 1/2 cup of water or other liquid to the hot skillet, and stir it to loosen the browned-on juices. Add this liquid to the crock pot.
Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf to your crock pot. Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, and add enough water, broth or wine to almost cover the rabbit pieces.
Add vegetables to the pot if you want them to cook with the rabbit. Otherwise, prepare them separately and have them ready when the rabbit has finished cooking.
Cook the rabbit on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or on low for 4 to 5 hours, until it is fork-tender. Remove the rabbit from your crock pot, as well as the vegetables if you've cooked them in the pot. Cover and keep warm.
Strain the cooking liquid from the crock pot into a small saucepan. To make a concentrated sauce, reduce the liquid until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you want more sauce, whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water, then stir that into the cooking juices. Stop stirring once the sauce thickens.
Serve the rabbit and vegetables hot, with the sauce or gravy made from your cooking juices.