Friend and neighbour Bruce, also known as “The Great White Hunter”, likes to range on them thar hills with his rifle slung over his shoulder. He quietly tracks an elusive deer or two, and carries them out of the bush to be butchered and prepared into tasty treats. Bruce also despatches rabbits when he gets the chance, doing his bit to rid the country of this scourge. These little bunnies may well look cute and cuddly, but here in New Zealand they are considered a pest. Rabbits were introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century for food and sport, but without any natural predators they soon became uncontrollable, reaching plague proportions in some areas. Rabbits have cost New Zealand many millions of dollars, through the direct cost of controlling them, and the loss of production from farms.
Bruce presented us with a pack of venison sausages and a rabbit a while ago. “I’ve given you a nice young one”, he told us. The venison sausages were soon eaten, but the rabbit was hidden away in the freezer. What to do with it – that was the question, I’ve never cooked rabbit before. Luckily Bruce’s lovely wife Julie loaned me her NZ Game cookbook to give me some ideas.
Long slow cooking seemed to be the best way with rabbit, so I duly prepared a rabbit, bacon and mushroom casserole. Mmm, it smelt great, but what will it taste like? Not too bad at all, we decided. Just as well we were not feeding a large family, as there is not a great deal of meat on a young bunny carcass. But well enough for a meal for two. Thanks very much, Bruce and Julie.
Robin has also done some rabbit shooting in his day. As a High School lad, he would range far and wide around the hills, taking home dressed rabbits which his Mother would duly cook up for a family feast. Those were the days.