Rabbit is a white meat combining a delicate taste and several nutritional qualities. This meat has its place in the context of a healthy diet when it can be eaten. The rabbit is easy to cook and goes with a multitude of foods.
Characteristics of the rabbit:
- Rich in animal proteins;
- Low in fat;
- Source of group B vitamin;
- Source of iron;
- Helps fight anemia.
What is the rabbit?
Rabbit identity card
- Type: Meat;
- Family: Leporidae;
- Origin: Europe;
- Season: May and November.
Characteristics of the food
The rabbits that we find in the trade weighs on average 1.5kg but some can weigh up to 10kg. They can be bought whole or cut.
Word from the nutritionist
Rabbits are considered white meat. One serving corresponds to approximately 150g of rabbit.
For 100g of cooked rabbit:
|Vitamin B3||9 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.13 mg|
|Vitamin B12||2.2 µg|
14 benefits of rabbits: why eat them?
- Rabbit flesh has a good balance between saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. In addition, this meat contains a low amount of cholesterol compared to red meats (beef, pork, lamb). The health impacts of rabbit meat are partly due to the fatty acids it contains. Moreover, a study has shown that the lipids extracted from rabbit meat have a quantity of fatty acids capable of lowering blood cholesterol twice as large as that of fatty acids increasing blood cholesterol. This result makes it possible to affirm that the cholesterol-lowering effect of lipids in rabbit meat is greater than that of other meats.
- About 40% of the fat in rabbit meat is saturated fatty acids, which is slightly higher than the amount found in chicken, but significantly lower than the amount found in red meats. The consumption of saturated fat in large quantities is known to have harmful health effects. For example, studies have shown a link between eating saturated fat and increasing the risk of esophageal and colorectal cancer. It should be noted that the main saturated fatty acid present in rabbit meat is palmitic acid (75% of saturated fatty acids). An intervention study carried out on healthy and overweight human subjects has shown that a diet rich in palmitic acid leads to a 24% increase in insulin resistance. Furthermore, palmitic acid is known to cause an increase in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol). However, it can also interact with a polyunsaturated fatty acid, linoleic acid, present in appreciable amounts in rabbit meat (15% of total fatty acids). The presence of the latter would therefore reduce the impact of palmitic acid on blood cholesterol levels. Indeed, two intervention studies in humans have shown that total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol would not be affected by a large consumption of palmitic acid if this is accompanied by a significant amount of linoleic acid, or more than 4.5% of energy. This corresponds to a consumption of 10 g of linoleic acid for a diet of 2,000 kilocalories (or “calories”).
- Rabbit meat also contains more than 35% monounsaturated fatty acids, known to lower total cholesterol, without changing the concentration of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). In addition, monounsaturated fatty acids, and more particularly oleic acid, reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases as well as the risks of thromboses, atherosclerosis and colon cancer.
- The rabbit contains an appreciable quantity of polyunsaturated fatty acids, that is to say nearly 25% of the total fatty acids. Two fatty acids in this category are mainly present in meat, namely linoleic acid accounting for more than 75% and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), present at around 20%. They are also two essential fatty acids because the human body cannot synthesize them (manufacture) and must therefore absorb them through food. Linoleic acid is a fatty acid member of the omega-6 family. Available data indicate that it would stimulate tumor growth in the case of breast cancer9. However, a meta-analysis of three clinical tests shows that linoleic acid would bring benefits to people with multiple sclerosis. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is another polyunsaturated fatty acid of importance to the omega-3 family and accounting for 4% of total fatty acids, which represents approximately 0.32 g of ALA per 100 g of rabbit meat. However, it should be noted that the ALA content is subject to wide variations. Indeed, the animal’s diet, breeding conditions and slaughter practices greatly influence the ALA content of the meat. According to the ISSFAL (International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids), sufficient intakes of ALA have been established at 1.6 g of ALA per day for a diet of 2,000 kilocalories. A study of more than 75,000 women has shown that consuming ALA would reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing cardiac arrest. Furthermore,
- Rabbits are an excellent source of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to maintain normal blood pH. It is one of the constituents of cell membranes.
- The rabbit is an excellent source of iron for men, but only a source for women, the latter having higher requirements for this mineral. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses).
- Rabbits are an excellent source of zinc for women, but only a good source for men, since the latter has higher requirements for this mineral. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones, and participates in the pancreas in the synthesis, storage and release of insulin.
- Rabbits are an excellent source of selenium. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps to convert thyroid hormones to their active form.
- Rabbits are an excellent source of vitamin B3. Also called niacin, this vitamin participates in many metabolic reactions and contributes particularly to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also collaborates in the DNA formation process, allowing normal growth and development.
- Rabbits are an excellent source of vitamin B6. This vitamin, also called pyridoxine, is part of coenzymes that participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also collaborates in the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. This vitamin finally plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.
- Rabbits are an excellent source of vitamin B12. This vitamin works together with folic acid (vitamin B9) to make red blood cells in the blood. It also participates in the maintenance of nerve cells and cells making bone tissue
- Rabbits are a good source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.
- Rabbits are a good source of vitamin B2. This vitamin is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.
- Rabbits are a good source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme in the energy use of the food we eat. It also participates in several stages of the synthesis of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin.
Choosing the right rabbit
To choose a rabbit correctly, its maple must be bounced well. Its flesh should be pink in color.
The different species
The different species of rabbit differ in their coat, size and quality of their flesh.
The rabbit can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, but it can also be frozen.
Preparation of the rabbit
How to cook it? How to match it?
The saddle is the fleshy part which extends from the ribs to the birth of the tail. It includes fillets and sirloin steaks, as well as slippers, a term that designates the thin-fleshed panels to which they are attached. More delicate than the chest and the legs, it is often cooked separately.
The internal cooking temperature is measured using a thermometer inserted in the rear leg. The rabbit is cooked when it reaches 140 ° F (60 ° C).
- In a gibelotte or a stew, the rabbit is first browned in butter and oil with diced bacon. We will then add flour if we want a thick sauce, then we will wet with water or wine or a mixture of wine and chicken broth. Add the spices of your choice, pearl onions, carrots and thinly sliced leek, white mushrooms, etc. We cook everything for about an hour.
- It is delicious cooked with cabbage, black or green olives, lemon or prunes. Cooking with wine, beer or cider tenderizes its flesh and gives it flavor.
- Diced in the Dijon style, the pieces are coated with a wine, mustard and crème fraîche sauce. You can also coat a whole rabbit with a mixture of Dijon mustard and cream, bard it with bacon or a strainer and roast it on a spit or on the grill, turning it occasionally.
- You can marinate it overnight before cooking.
- Cold, it will be served as a salad; hot or cold, sandwiched, like chicken.
- In terrines or pâtés, in jelly or in rillettes.
- Boneless, the saddle is stuffed with chicken or vegetable flesh, is barded and cooked in a stew or in sauce. You can also slice it thinly, fry it and serve it on pasta with thin strips of zucchini and a pistou sauce.
- The kidneys and the liver are eaten simply returned to the pan or added to a stuffing; the carcass makes an excellent broth.
The term “rabbit” appeared in the French language in the 15th century. It comes either from laper, a word of Iberian, Mediterranean or Germanic origin, which means “water”, or from the Ibero-Romanesque lappa, which means “flat stone”. The origin of these senses remains obscure.
The origin and evolution of the domestic rabbit is not easy to trace. Belonging to the order of the lagomorphs, which can be traced back to 45 or 55 million years, it could come from the north of Asia or, as some people think, from North America, at that distant time where the continents were still connected. According to this version, he would have taken, with other lagomorphs including the hare, a North Atlantic route which would have brought him in western Europe, then in North Africa and, finally, along the coast north of the Mediterranean, where he would have been established for a long time.
The lucky rabbit …
The Celts believed that the rabbit dug burrows to converse with the gods, and its paw was therefore a key to access it. In the Middle Ages, it protected against witches. Today, it brings good luck. Worn on the left arm, it is supposed to prevent any danger.
Be that as it may, all the domestic rabbit breeds are descended from a single species, the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), or European rabbit, whose evolution took place mainly in the Mediterranean basin where it lived the wild in wooded areas called garennes.
The first reports of rabbit farming date from ancient Rome. He was then kept in leporia, or “rabbit gardens”, spaces surrounded by stone walls where he lived and multiplied as he pleased, to be captured and killed if necessary. It would have reached France via Spain in the early Middle Ages and would have been introduced to England around the 12th century. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was kept in semi-captivity, living and multiplying in individual burrows linked together by a complex network of galleries.
It was not until the 16th century that we really began to domesticate it. We will then select the various breeds which will be distinguished by the color and nature of their coat, and by their weight – barely a kilo in dwarf breeds and more than ten kilos in large breeds. The hutch will replace the garenne and the rabbit will now be raised on the farm, in the farmyard, in the company of poultry. This will not prevent the wild branch of the species from continuing to multiply.
The bad luck rabbit …
At sea, the bad luck rabbit. We go so far as to refuse to pronounce his name or to look at his image. All this because in the distant days of the sailing navy, rabbits, brought on board to serve as food, had found themselves starving for lack of food. They fell back on the hemp fiber used for ropes, sails and the sealing tow. The disaster was total!
Although it is raised in many places on the planet, the rabbit has never played a very important role in human food. However, its lean and nutritious flesh could be a precious source of protein in countries where there is a deficiency. As it eats foods rich in fiber and consumes few grains, it does not compete with humans in its quest for food, unlike beef, veal and chicken. In addition, given its small carcass, it is cooked as soon as it is slaughtered and eaten the same day. It therefore does not require refrigeration, a major asset in countries where energy is scarce and expensive.
However, attempts to set up farms in Africa, Asia and Latin America have been rather unsuccessful. Indeed, the rabbit is sensitive to hot and humid temperatures, and we also feared the same overcrowding problems as those experienced in Australia (see Ecology and environment). Finally, the attachment that its placid and gentle nature arouses in children and their parents may also have something to do with it.
Rabbit production is therefore restricted to the Mediterranean basin. Even in these countries, however, fast food is gaining ground, which has resulted in a net decrease in consumption. In North America, where breeding is more rare, rabbits are considered a fine food. Its cost, relatively higher than that of chicken, makes it a food reserved for the better-off classes of society.
Ecology and environment
In 1859, 24 European rabbits were brought to Australia by hunters who wanted to add new game to their hunting table. After Australia has eliminated almost all of the predators that could feed on this new prey, the animal multiplies at a staggering rate. Thirty years later, the number of rabbits on the island is estimated at 20 million, and in the early 1950s it reached the staggering figure of 600 million. Poison, power lines, hunting, nothing succeeds in controlling this animal which inflicts heavy losses on crops.
At the end of their resources, the authorities decided to adopt an extreme measure: they released the myxomatosis virus, imported from South America, into the wild. On the South American leporidae species, with which it has always evolved, the virus is relatively mild, but transposed to wild rabbits, it is merciless: in Australia, 99% of rabbits die in less than two years. Over time, it loses its virulence and the populations partially reform, which forces the authorities to release new, more active strains. Despite everything, even if it never reached the record number of 1950 again, the rabbit continues to pose a threat to the country.
Australian researchers are therefore working on the development of a genetically modified virus, which is derived from myxomatosis and is intended to sterilize the rabbit. However, the scientific community is divided on the possible effects of the introduction of genetically modified viruses into the wild. Firstly because they could affect animal populations other than those for which they were intended, secondly because their genome is unstable and they can easily mutate. In addition, it is difficult to predict what will be the behavior of such a virus, once released into the wild. For example, isn’t it at risk, as some researchers worry, of infecting humans even if myxomatosis has so far proven to be harmless for them?