Rabbit is a lean and available meat that contains less fat than both beef and pork. It also tastes amazing. However, cooking a rabbit involves preparing it, and one of the first steps in rabbit preparation is quartering. Quartering a rabbit means to cut it up, and for those that have prepared a chicken, the process is similar. This is not difficult, but it can be a challenge to the first-timer. Let’s examine the process:
Note: There’s a great deal of variety in preferred quartering methods. For instance, some preparers prefer to hang their rabbits, while others favor cutting boards. The process described below is not the only right way. It is just the way preferred by the author.
1. The preparer should thoroughly wash and dry the rabbit prior to gutting it and skinning it. After skinning the rabbit, remove the head and feet with a meat cleaver. If you buy the rabbit from a butcher, they will perform this prep prior to sale. If it’s your rabbit, but you’re uncomfortable with the head removal, you can take it to most butchers, who will perform that preparation for you for a small fee.
2. If you’ve performed step one yourself, it’s important that you allow the carcass to cool. A good way to accomplish this is to soak it in a sink full of cold water with 2 tablespoons of salt for a half-hour. This not only cools the rabbit, but it helps dissipate the blood from the carcass.
3. Next, you should thoroughly wash the rabbit again in a light soap and water solution. Dry the rabbit completely prior to moving onto the next step. You can use a towel, and then allow for a little air-drying at room temperature.
4. Use a keenly sharpened blade. If necessary, hone the blade prior to beginning the process. Keen sharpness is the difference between difficult and effortless when quartering. It isn’t necessary to have a large knife to prepare a rabbit, and in many cases, a small knife makes the process simpler. Opt for the smallest one that will get the job done, and which is comfortable to hold.
5. At each side of the rabbit’s torso beneath its arms, there is an easily identifiable skin flap. You will want to remove both of these flaps. There are several ways to accomplish this, but most prefer to start at the rabbit’s back and work around to the area beneath the ribs. Once you remove the flaps, you can discard them, although some people prepare them like chicken wings.
6. Next, remove the front legs. For those new to the process, work slowly as you cut through the connective tissue with the knife. The legs do not connect to the core skeleton, so once you’ve gotten through the connective tissue, the legs remove with little force. Once you’re experienced, this will be a fast process. However, if the novice attempts to do this quickly, it is very easy to get sloppy and damage the carcass.
7. Locate the hole or indentation on the rabbit torso where the inner and outer elements connect. Using the flat of the blade, press hard to force this opening, which forces the entire assemblage to relax. You can remove any unwanted tissue from that area at this time as well, as you split the ribcage open.
8. Remove the hind legs, which is exactly like the process in step six. There is no bone connecting the rear legs to the core skeleton, so removing them is just a matter of cutting through the connective tissue. Little force is required, and many experienced preparers prefer to use shears, such as those available in any garden department, for removal of both the front and hind legs.
9. You should now have three defined sections. There is the upper torso and the left and right section of the ribcage, including the lower section of the animal. Use the knife to separate these three pieces. You can separate those pieces down further, at which point you will have four quarters and four saddle pieces of equal size. Cook these pieces as is, or you can cut them down further based on what the recipe calls for.