Rabbit meat. Not so easily available in grocery stores in Iceland, but easy to raise. Sæþór Benjamín shares one of his favorite recipes: rabbit chili, served over crushed tortilla chips with shredded cheese, sour cream and guacamole on top.
Rabbits are prized for their fast maturity (up to a kilogram of meat in just six weeks), low skeleton weight as a percentage of body weight (7-8%), good taste and ease of skinning. Plus depending on how you feel about cuddly animals, raising can be really fun.
As me and my husband both quite enjoy it, we’ve been breeding rabbits for meat for some time now. How did we get started? Well because rabbits require a minimum of space, cheap alfalfa pellets, hay, or even grass and very little time, we built a hutch out of thick chicken wire, wood, and water proof roofing material in our garden; put small boxes in each section for the rabbits to nest in, bought water bottles and were ready to go.
Next we found a farmer in Keflavík who had Rex rabbits for sale, 6.000 ISK a piece (around 50 USD), and bought two, a male and female. We let them breed. Had 6 more, 3 males and 3 females, and butchered the 3 males at six weeks (sexual maturity, any older and they could breed with the females). So now we have 4 females, all that can breed with the male.
Butchering was learned from YouTube, and is not difficult at all. You just need to be careful not to puncture any organs lest the meat get contaminated. Once skinned, gutted and washed, we roasted the first one rotisserie style with very little seasoning other than salt and pepper, to get a good idea of what the meat tastes like. I was expecting something like chicken, but it had a wonderful soft texture with a lot of flavor, probably from being raised without contaminants.
On the next two rabbits, we wanted something more interesting, so we used a meat grinder to grind the meat. This allowed us to use it just as one would use ground beef – burgers, tacos, or in our case, chili. Chili is one of my favorite dishes, easy to make, but full of spicy flavor. After trying plain meat, I wanted to try rabbit in my favorite recipe. And here is the result.
- For the chili, which one can use any ground meat for, chicken, beef, turkey, or rabbit:
- 150 grams Bacon chunks (or regular bacon slices cut into pieces)
- 500 grams ground meat
- Two cans chopped tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes chopped)
- Tomato paste
- Onion chopped into pieces
- 3 cloves garlic
- Spicy chilis or cayene pepper
- Cumin powder
- Chili powder
- Salt and pepper
- Brown the bacon. Then remove bacon but keep the grease.
- Now brown ground meat in bacon grease (this makes the meat very soft and tender).
- Add the onions when meat is almost brown. Cook til onions are tender.
- Add chopped tomatoes and tomato pure plus spices (your individual tastes will dictate how much of each, but I go heaviest on the chili powder, next on the cumin and least of the cayenne pepper).
- Simmer for as long as possible before serving. At least 30 minutes, but 2-3 hours is even better.
- Serve over crushed tortilla chips with shredded cheese, sour cream and guacamole on top.
- [b]Prep time:[/b] 15 minutes (plus 30-60 if you need to also butcher the rabbit)
- [b]Cook time:[/b] 45 minutes, but better the longer it simmers, up to 3 hours