Rabbit meat is a great source of protein, even more so than beef or chicken. Better yet, it is an easily digestible protein that is almost cholesterol free. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, rabbit meat was a common meat for many families, almost as common as chicken is today. It is the meat that got many through the Great Depression. Often families were known for canning rabbit and pheasant wild game meat to extend the nourishment into the winter months.
Although it is not as popular now as it was then, there are still many good reasons to consume rabbit. Not only is it an excellent source of iron, containing more than 4 mg a serving, it also provides a wide range of minerals and high levels of phosphorous and potassium.
Tender Meat Every Time
The benefit of pressure canning meat is even the toughest of cuts can be made tender. Think of the times you may have pressure cooked cube steak or corned beef. I bet you could almost cut the meat with a fork. The same concept is true when pressure canning meat and wild game, the only difference is the meat is in individual glass jars.
Prepare meat and poultry before canning by removing excess fat or undesirable parts such as excessive skin, gristle, bone, silverskin, etc. When canning poultry and rabbit, you may leave various parts on the bone, for instance; preserving legs and thighs with bones in and skin on retains more flavor and cuts down on processing time. Cut the meat into manageable pieces that fit easily into canning jars. Invest in wide-mouth jars for canning and preserving meat to make filling and emptying the jars much easier, and you gain a touch more space compared to a regular-mouth jar.
Making Delicious Wild Game Meals in a Jar
While there are many health benefits to eating rabbit, do not rule out consuming pheasant. This gorgeous bird is more than a souvenir on your mantel. Pheasant and partridge also contain a high level of iron, protein, vitamin B6 and selenium, which helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. And what better way to preserve your wild game? Home canning. Here is a fun interchangeable recipe you may create and preserve this hunting season.
Rabbit (or Pheasant) Cacciatore Recipe
Makes approximately 5 quarts or 10 pints
Prep Time: 20 min / Cook Time: 20 min / Canner Time: 60 min / Processing Time: 90 min/75 min / Total Time: 190 min/175 min
Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian so having a dish made alla cacciatora means the meal is prepared “hunter-style,” which traditionally includes with onions, herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers, and sometimes wine. A popular meal throughout Europe still today, cacciatore is often made with rabbit and is also excellent prepared with pheasant.
3 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups cubed boneless, skinless rabbit, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup red wine
4 cups diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
3 cups chopped sweet onion
3 cups tomato juice
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (1½ cups)
1 celery stalk, chopped (½ cup)
6 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup tomato paste (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- In a thick-bottomed stockpot, add the oil and rabbit, mix well to coat the rabbit. Cook the rabbit on medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Mix well and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the red wine, place the lid on the stockpot, and let cook for 5 more minutes undisturbed.
- Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, tomato juice, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Mix well and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sugar, mixing well to distribute the paste. Boil for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Using a slotted spoon, fill each hot jar ¾ full of rabbit and vegetables. Ladle the hot tomato sauce over the mixture, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and add additional sauce if necessary to maintain the 1 inch of headspace.
- Wipe the rim of each jar with a warm washcloth dipped in distilled white vinegar. Place a lid and ring on each jar and hand tighten.
- Place the sealed jars in the pressure canner, lock the pressure canner lid, and bring to a boil on high heat. Let the canner vent for 10 minutes. Close the vent and continue heating to achieve 11 PSI for a dial gauge and 10 PSI for a weighted gauge. Process quart jars for 90 minutes and pint jars for 75 minutes.
Serving Tip: This dish is traditionally served over pasta noodles, flat, or spaghetti, and topped with fresh chopped parsley flakes and shaved Parmesan cheese. For a fun kick, use V8® juice, regular or spicy, or your home-canned tomato juice seasoned to your preference.
For more meat and wild game canning recipes, be sure to pick up your copy of The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning on Amazon or Barnes & Noble today. Have a canning question? Do not hesitate to message me on Facebook.
Happy Canning Everyone~
Diane, The Canning Diva®