I have had the luck to take on North America’s rabbits and hares from Arctic Alaska to coastal Georgia. Although some, like the jack rabbit, are a bit more challenging to eat than others; all may be cooked using the same basic method. The basic variable is that the larger, and older, the animal the longer it must be steamed until it is tender.
Use rubber gloves when you might come into contact with rabbit blood and through the gutting and meat-washing steps.
Rabbits are the easiest of all small-game animals to skin. The hide can generally be pulled off the carcass once the initial cuts are made. I usually cut off the head and feet during the skinning process. Then open the body cavity cutting through the ribs and throw out the guts and lungs. There will be a distinctive and mildly objectionable smell.
After the carcass is washed, cut it into pieces including the front and rear legs, backbone back of the ribs and the front of the backbone above the ribs. I cut the ribs away to allow more room in the pot. Salt, pepper, flour and brown in hot oil. Remove the smaller pieces, like the front legs as they are browned to keep them from overcooking. If the rabbits are young, they may be eaten at this stage. However, with mature animals you will need to pour off the frying oil, add some onions and steam the rabbits for perhaps some hours to get them sufficiently tender to eat. Watch and add water as necessary to keep from drying.
Be patient, the results will be worth the time and effort. Rabbit meat will pick up some taste from their diets. Jack rabbits, for example, will have a hint to a strong taste of sage depending on the age of the animal.
I have small game recipes in my books, Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound and also in Crossbow Hunting. Information on these books may be found elsewhere in this blog and at www.hoveysmith.com.