Rabbit Sous-Vide Time and Temperature

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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.

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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.

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I rubbed them with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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Then I vacuum sealed them individually, labeled the bags, and cooked them accordingly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Flashback

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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.

16 thoughts on “Rabbit Sous-Vide Time and Temperature

  1. Thanks Stefan. I have made rabbit leg twice, once 4 hours and one 3 hours at 60C. Both times the meat felt over cooked.. I am living in thr South of France and the rabbit legs I but over here look smaller (younger?) than yours. I was planning to them next time in thr tajin as I normally do but now I will try it one more time for 2 hours at 60C. Or maybe even shorter if mine are smaller. What weight were yours?

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  2. Enzimatic issues are involved when cooking game. I’ve noticed that the rabbit, cooked sous vide at 60′, come out mushy very quickly, so I’ve raised the temperature at 68′ (time varies from 2/3 hours for the loin up to 4 hours for the legs). Adding vinager in the bag helps to get more flaky testure.

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    • Hi Sergio, do you mean enzymes that still work at 60 degrees and are killed at 68? That had not yet occurred to me, as the enzymes I sometimes use to tenderize meat on purpose (I call this warm ageing) stop working around 50 degrees already. Very interesting! I’ve never tried rabbit legs for 4 hours at 68 degrees because they were already too tender after 4 hours at 60, but if enzymes could be it play it is worth trying!

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  3. Hello Stefan, great article, very informative. I have a problem since 2 hours à 62C sous vide for a whole rabbit yields somewhat rosy flesh around the bones and people are not (yet) very keen to eat rosy rabbit. This is a pity since the rest of the flesh is perfect in texture and extremely juicy. I finish the rabbit on a spit roast in front of a wood fire to make a crust but this does not solve the rosy inside problem. Do you have any idea?

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  4. Pingback: Rabbit in Piquant Sauce, Stovetop Braised or Sous-Vide (Coniglio in Salsa Piccante) | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

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  6. Hi Stefan – very informative, thanks – I’m interested as to why you decided that 75deg/8hrs was a better method? I have to cook a whole wild rabbit (older, I think, and super duper lean), so would this still be your recommended method?

    Thanks!

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    • Because at the lower temperature the meat may turn out unpleasantly soft. With the wild rabbit there is an additional reason, which is the smell that will be accentuated. My preferred method would be to divide the rabbit into pieces and to cook the back fillet at a different temp than the legs and flaps. The best way to work around the lean is butter (or olive oil or duck fat).

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