Rabbit meat is very lean and easily becomes dry and/or tough. With sous-vide this can be fixed: the meat will be tender and succulent. So far I’ve been cooking rabbit sous-vide for 3 to 4 hours at 60ºC/140ºF. Sometimes it came out slightly overcooked. When cooking meat sous-vide, overcooked means that the meat loses its texture and becomes like a paste. It is tender and juicy, but not very pleasant. Lately a few readers left comments stating that the same result. This is probably caused by farmed rabbit meat of young animals. And so it was time for a side-by-side experiment to find out the right cooking time and temperature. Please note that I did this experiment with farmed rabbit. For wild rabbit, it is likely that it is older and tougher and may require a longer cooking time and/or higher temperature to become tender.
Update January 6, 2016: I have now discovered that 8 hours at 75C/167F is a great way to cook rabbit sous-vide. The texture will be like a traditional braise, but foolproof and consistent.
I started with three hind legs from the same batch, so although they were not all from the same animal (have you ever seen a rabbit with three hind legs?), it is very likely that they were from very similar animals.
Overcooking has two dimensions when cooking sous-vide. If the temperature is too high, the meat will become dry. If the time is too long, the meat will lose its texture. Since sous-vide rabbit seemed to suffer more from the texture problem, I thought that cooking at a higher temperature for a shorter time could work. And it did. 1 hour at 66ºC/150ºF yielded rabbit meat that was very tender and succulent. It was slightly flaky.
Next I tried 60ºC/140ºF for 2 hours. This turned out slightly more tender than the previous, and not flaky at all. I think it is a matter of personal taste which one you’d prefer. The meat was slightly less ‘bloody’ towards the bone.
The final experiment was 3 hours at 60ºC/140ºF. This was again slightly more tender, and almost becoming too tender. Again not flaky at all. Since I only had three legs I didn’t try 4 hours at 60ºC/140ºF, but I expect it would have become too tender (not enough texture).
Conclusion: I will change my recommendation for (farmed) rabbit legs from 3-4 hours to 2 hours at 60ºC/140ºF. If you are in a hurry, 1 hour at 66ºC/150ºF is a good alternative.
One of my favorite types of sushi is ebi nigiri. The shrimp has a very nice slightly sweet flavor that goes very well with the rice and it also looks pretty. Although most people think of raw fish when they think of sushi, the shrimp is actually parcooked for this preparation.