Buttermilk Fried Rabbit
If you are using wild cottontails, I highly recommend you brine your rabbits before frying. A simple brine of 1/4 cup kosher
salt to 4 cups water will do — the rabbit is going to get plenty of seasoning later. Submerge your bunny in this brine about 8
hours. This process keeps them moist. Domesticated rabbits don’t really need this, but if you want to brine them, do so for no more than 4 hours.
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne, or to taste
- 2 to 4 cottontails, cut into serving pieces
- About 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1-1⁄2 cups flour
- 1 heaping teaspoon salt
Mix the buttermilk with the Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne. Place rabbit pieces in mixture, and turn to coat thoroughly. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
When you’re ready to fry the rabbit, pour the oil into a large pan — a big cast-iron frying pan is ideal — to a depth of about 1 inch. The general idea is for the oil to come halfway up the side of the rabbit pieces. Set the heat to medium-high.
While the oil heats, remove the rabbit pieces from the buttermilk, and place them in a colander to drain. Don’t shake off the buttermilk.
Let the oil heat to about 325 F; this is the point where a sprinkle of flour will immediately sizzle. When the oil is hot, pour the flour and salt into a plastic bag, and shake to combine. Put a few pieces of rabbit into the bag, and shake to coat them.
Place the coated rabbit pieces in a single layer in the hot oil so they don’t touch, and fry for about 8 to 12 minutes. Fry gently — you want a steady sizzle, not a raging fry, and you definitely don’t want the rabbit to just sit in oil. You might need to adjust the heat. When the pieces are golden, turn them and continue frying for another 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. The forelegs will come out first, followed by the loin, and the hind legs will come out last. You’ll probably need to fry in batches, so just leave the uncooked rabbit pieces in the colander until you’re ready to coat them in flour and fry them. Don’t let the floured pieces sit.
Remove the rabbit pieces and let them rest on a rack set over a paper towel to drain any excess oil. If you’re cooking in batches, set this in a warm oven.