Roasted rabbit, no buckshot

Going hunting with my father and grandfather was always a treat, although I never had the guts to shoot an animal. I enjoyed watching the beagles run and enjoyed the hunt, the subsequent chase and the meal afterward.

I even enjoyed watching my father clean the rabbits, but shooting one? Nah, that was never my thing.

I have fond memories of eating rabbit with my family, too; typically, it was battered and fried like chicken, and we would enjoy it with sides like green beans and potatoes. I remember one time while eating a rabbit shank, seeing holes where the buckshot went through him.

My uncle, then a teenager, saw the same in his piece, and I remember him saying, “Poor little thing.” Didn’t stop him from eating it, though, because rabbit is delicious.

Mayan Café has a rabbit dish that is absolutely worth trying — it’s slow roasted and served with pumpkin seed mole, and served with grilled cactus. Delicious, to be sure, but not what I remember having as a kid.

Well, I was giddy when I learned a newish spot in the Parkland neighborhood, Angie’s Home Cooking, serves rabbit as a rotating special. Co-owner Anthony Bishop — he runs the restaurant with his wife, Angie — buys a case or two of frozen rabbits every couple of weeks from Boone’s Butcher Shop in Bardstown.

Angie’s opened last summer and serves homestyle specials such as fried chicken, meatloaf and catfish, but rabbit isn’t something I see often, so I had to make sure to get in on the special.

“Rabbit Day,” as Bishop calls it, comes roughly every other week, and he said the rabbit gets a thin coating of flour, is seasoned with salt and pepper and briefly fried before it goes into the oven to slow roast for about two and a half hours. After that, it’s served with a pair of sides and bread, and it is a mouth-watering treat.

Bishop made one especially for me to try (Rabbit Day is this Saturday, March 3), and he texted me, “Bugs Bunny will be out of the slow cooker in about two and a half hours.” Droll, but I got the point.

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When I arrived at Angie’s, which is situated in the 2600 block of West Broadway, I was presented with a plate containing basically half a rabbit — from what I could tell, I got a front “breast” piece and a rear shank, including a foot that apparently brought no luck to that rabbit.

The rabbit was covered in a light, onion gravy that added depth, but stayed out of the way of the meat. If you’d not had rabbit before, I would describe it as much like dark-meat chicken, but with a richer flavor. And some pieces of meat are darker than others, almost sliding into the territory of dark turkey meat, although less greasy.

While it wasn’t the fried rabbit of childhood memory, the meat and flavor were exactly what I recalled, minus the buckshot. And, at Angie’s, it’s cooked to the point that the meat slides effortlessly off the bone, whether you’re picking it off with a fork or getting your hands messy and eating it Henry VIII style.

Yes, the seasoned green beans and corn pudding I had as sides were delicious, but the rabbit is what really made me smile. Bishop told me he gets smaller rabbits, rather than larger ones, in part because they cook more quickly, and in part because he finds them to be more tender. He also said larger, presumably older, rabbits have a more gamey taste in their meat.
Who knew?

Bishop said one young man came in on one of the first Rabbit Days at the restaurant and ordered it simply because he had never eaten rabbit before. He enjoyed it so much that he returned for the next one — intent on feeding it to nine friends. An order of one turned to an order of 10 in the blink of an eye.

Hey, rabbit is just that tasty.

If you go, call ahead — 450-6200 — to be sure rabbit is indeed on the menu (sometimes Bishop can’t get it) and that it hasn’t sold out (the price of the rabbit dinner is $11.99).

Hey, with that guy buying 10 at a time, and me eating rabbits faster than they can reproduce, a case of rabbits can’t last long.

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