Fried Rabbit with Madeira Gravy

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    6 to 8

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

No dish is more prized in the South than fried rabbit with a cream or wine gravy, and while the idea makes me shudder a bit today, I can still remember as a young boy catching wild rabbits in traps, helping my grandfather skin and dress them, then watching my mother cut them up and fry them for dinner. Today, of course, frozen dressed rabbits are available in more and more markets as Americans shed their prejudices over eating “bunnies,” and restaurant chefs come up with ever new preparations. Basically, rabbit is fried just like chicken, meaning that care must be taken not to overcook it to avoid dry toughness. And yes, fried rabbit does taste almost like fried chicken (and, for that matter, like fried squirrel). Madeira gravy goes back a long way in the South, but if you don’t have a bottle of the wine, substitute either port or sweet vermouth.

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • Two 3-pound rabbits, dressed and cut into serving pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup Madeira

Method

In a paper bag, combine 1 cup of the flour, the cornmeal, and salt and pepper and shake well. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the lard over moderate heat. Dip the rabbit pieces in batches into the buttermilk, dredge by shaking in the paper bag, add to the skillet, and brown evenly on all sides in the fat (in batches, if necessary). Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook, turning frequently with tongs, till the rabbit is tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain on another paper bag or paper towels.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet, add the remaining ¼ cup flour, and stir over moderate heat till smooth, scraping up drippings from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth and Madeira, season with salt and pepper, increase heat slightly, and stir constantly till the gravy is nicely thickened.

Serve the rabbit on a platter and pass the gravy separately.