I really don’t know why Americans don’t eat rabbit. There’s definitely a factor of “oh, it’s too CUTE to eat” which is part of why we don’t eat much lamb as a nation, either. But it’s really hard to find rabbit in grocery stores – we asked once at our usual market and I think they could special order it frozen for us if we gave them enough notice, and it cost an arm and a leg. Weird.
So when a friend of ours, a local farmer, asked if we wanted to take one of the rabbits she’s been shooting to keep them out of her vegetables, we said Definitely. Even before we received the rabbit, I started looking through my British and Mediterranean cookbooks for possible recipes. We haven’t had much experience cooking wild game of any sort, so I wanted to get a feel for the most common treatments. Rabbit isn’t a strongly gamey meat, but it’s still liable to be stronger-tasting than, say, a farm-raised chicken, and the meat is very dense and low in fat, so it requires some care in preparation.
Even after I had learned how to cook most things, I had no idea how to deal with a piece of salmon. It was embarrassing, but I was sufficiently terrified by the idea of cooking, not just salmon, but any fish, that I almost never tried. I was scared of it being raw, but I hated it overcooked. So I just skipped the whole thing, which is really a shame when you live in the Pacific Northwest.
Enter that saviour of timid chefs everywhere, Mark Bittman! All of his recipes tend to have a comforting, you-can-do-this sort of tone, with simple techniques and ingredients. I discovered a stovetop-to-oven method of cooking salmon fillets in his book The Minimalist Cooks at Home, and it worked so well I wouldn’t cook salmon any other way for years. It repeatedly produced fish that was moist, tender and cooked all the way through. It’s simple: crust the fish with herbs and spices, melt butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, add the fish seasoning-side down and cook one minute. Flip and cook one more minute. Put the pan in the oven and cook about five minutes or until done how you like. Easy.