A smoked rabbit meal has been my number one goal since starting the rabbit project. Unfortunately, the more I searched for a recipe or method, the more discouraged I got. Rabbit is a very lean meat and thus it dries out quickly if not cooked with moisture so grilling and smoking aren’t the best methods. All the meat-smoking forums said no, it can’t be done. (yes, there are meat-smoking forums and these people are very serious about their craft!)
But I – not being chained to perfection like the meat-smoking-forum-experts, decided to think outside of the smoking box. My goal was a nice smoke flavor, but not a dried out jerky-like texture. All the ‘experts’ said the only way to do it was to wrap it in bacon. Now I do love bacon, but I don’t want rabbit that tastes like bacon. I want rabbit that tastes like smoked rabbit.
Think, think, think. AHA! It hit me that I have had excellent results cooking rabbit in the crockpot. And chickens have alot of fat that melts off while cooking…Stay with me, this is not madness – it’s genius!
I have a small cabinet style smoker with multiple racks so I thought that perhaps I could have the chicken ‘baste’ the rabbits…so I put the chicken on the top rack and two rabbits underneath. I did not marinate or put anything on the rabbits. The fat dripped onto the rabbits and gave them some moisture. I wanted to see how long I could keep the rabbits in the smoker, giving them great flavor without drying them out. So I took one out after an hour, and the other stayed in for two hours.
This is where the crockpot comes into play. I knew an hour at 250-300 degrees would not cook the rabbit enough, so I brought them in and finished them in the crockpot. I added about a cup of water to the pot to give it some moisture and set it on medium for a couple hours.
The result was amazing! Exactly what I was going for. It turns out that rabbit soaks up smoke really well, so the one that was in for just an hour was the best. The one that was in for 2 hours was tougher and a little leathery but still fine to eat.
In the end, I think the chicken is totally optional. Rabbit soaks up the smoke so well that they really only need a short time to get the flavor. Next time I will not bother, unless I happen to need a cooked chicken.
I give my experiment an A+, even if it might cause heads to spin over at the meat forums should they ever come across this post. How good does that look? Try it sometime and let me know if it works for you!