Beneath the floppy ears and cotton-ball tail of a rabbit is some seriously delicious meat. It truly does taste like chicken -- only leaner and slightly sweeter. Or perhaps it's like a more healthful duck.
Other bonuses: Because rabbit is still a "boutique meat," most local restaurants use Florida rabbits from family-run farms where the animals are raised on a clean herbivore diet without the use of hormones or steroids. Plus, there appears to be no shortage, as we all know how well rabbits procreate.
If this season's offering of chocolate bunnies -- Easter is this Sunday, April 20 -- has you jonesing for the real savory deal or you simply want to taste the meat for the first time, we have five must-try rabbit dishes.
Gong Bao Rabbit at Blackbrick
If you want to try your rabbit with some heat, head to Blackbrick for the gong bao rabbit ($17). This dish has roasted fresh chili peanuts, red and green peppers, onion, jalapeño slices, and Sichuan pepper thrown in for quite a kick. The tender rabbit meat is not overpowered, but rather highlighted, in this flavorful plate. Bonus: The bones are used in the stock for the comforting wonton soup.
Wabbit and Waffles at the Federal Food Drink & Provisions
Chicken and waffles get an upgrade. As we already mentioned, rabbit tastes like chicken, so it is also delicious fried. This delightfully playful dish regularly hops onto the brunch menu, but for Easter Sunday, the Federal will offer it as part of a $29 prix fixe. The "wabbit" is chicken-fried rabbit confit, and the waffles are made with cornmeal. The dish is topped with maple syrup and candied citrus, including grapefruit, kumquat, and orange.
Rabbit Pâté at Oak Tavern
Oak Tavern has rabbit on the brain and on the bread. The rabbit pâté is regularly featured on the charcuterie board, and they even do exciting entrées, like a rabbit leg and truffle sausage with a parsnip puree and cider jus. We love when restaurants spread the love by featuring our favorite meat in a spreadable form.
Rabbit Confit and English Pea Tortellini at 15 Steps
15 Steps has more than one option for rabbit on its seasonally driven menu. Right now, you can try the rabbit and foie gras terrine on the charcuterie board ($25) or the most spring-forward dish imaginable. It features Florida rabbit confit, English pea tortellini, local radishes, and smoked tomato and is topped with chicken chicharrones ($12). If you want to taste the season, try this dish -- it beats the ubiquitous asparagus and eggs popping up on every menu.
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For a dish you can enjoy all year long, Salumeria 104 offers braised Florida rabbit. It is accompanied with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and Taggiasca olives over polenta. This dish is full of heart, and the best part: It lets this glorious meat be the star.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst