Grilled Rabbit with Chestnut Spoon Bread

Preparation info

  • Yields

    4 to 6

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Bill Neal's Southern Cooking

Bill Neal's Southern Cooking

By Bill Neal

Published 1985

  • About

Such a rich entrée should be served alone as part of a complex meal. A rather rustic and charming touch can be added to this dish by bringing the skillet to the table for serving. Fresh asparagus in lemon butter could precede it nicely, and a simple watercress salad could follow.


  • 1 rabbit, weighing about pounds (1125 g), cut into 6 pieces: 2 forelegs with shoulders, 2 loin sections with kidneys, and 2 hind legs
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) peanut oil
  • ½ cup (118 ml) peeled, chopped, fresh chestnuts (or vacuum packed in a jar)
  • 1 cup (235 ml) yellow cornmeal
  • teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (235 ml) boiling water
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 cup (235 ml) grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) butter


    Chop the bacon into a paste with the garlic, thyme, and sage. Make small incisions between the muscles of the rabbit pieces and pack the seasonings into them. Rub each piece well with vinegar, salt, and pepper, and marinate in the oil, turning occasionally, for 4 to 6 hours.

    Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).

    While the rabbit is marinating, put the fresh or vacuum-packed chestnuts in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly dried. Remove, let cool, and pulverize in a blender or food processor until fine as cornmeal. Reserve.

    Build a good fire in the grill and let the flames die down to a hot bed of coals. During this time soak the hickory chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Drain the chips and add to the fire. Place the rabbit on the grill and brown well on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes total cooking time. Watch carefully and do not let the meat overcook.

    Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

    Combine the chestnut flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over, stir well and let sit for 10 minutes. Separate the eggs and reserve the whites. Beat the yolks with the buttermilk and stir into the batter. Add the cheese and soda. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in. Melt the butter in the skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Pour the batter into the skillet all at once. Arrange the rabbit pieces over the top of the batter and put into the preheated oven immediately.

    Reduce heat to 325°F (163°C). Bake 40 minutes or until spoon bread has risen, is set, and is lightly browned. Serve immediately.