Bacon Wrapped Kickin’ Smoked Rabbit

I recently found myself wanting rabbit. Rabbit isn’t a complicated meat to cook and there is a variety of ways to prepare and cook it. Since I tend to smoke, roast, or grill any meat cooked at my house, I chose that I wanted to get some rabbit ready for smoking. Before I begin I will tell all of you that the rabbits used to make this meal were killed by me, field dressed by me, later skinned by me, and eventually placed in my freezer by me. The rabbits were killed using a bow and arrow by me and my son on my property in late January this year. I have learned that killing and immediately eating the rabbits causes mass shrinkage to the meat, about 40% is lost due to shrinkage. However, if you dress and skin the rabbit and place it in the refrigerator for 48 hours it lets the muscles relax resulting in very little shrinkage, about 5% or less. I chose to freeze mine since I wasn’t in the mood to eat rabbit at the given time. I will assume if you are interested in preparing this recipe that you have knowledge in prepping whole animals or can adapt to get the end result.
With that being said, I will explain the brine I used and how to make that. For those of you who cook game or fresh kill animals I don’t need to explain that the meat must rest for at least 48 hours in the refrigerator before it can be used to reduce the shrinkage of the meat. I used the meat from three rabbits, meaning 6 straps and 6 rear legs, all cut into 6oz pieces or somewhere close.
2 cups real maple syrup
2 cups Southern Comfort whiskey
1 cup juice fresh squeezed from oranges
1/4 cup Tabasco Sauce (original)
1/4 cup Habanero peppers (finely chopped)
1/8 cup coarse sea salt
Whisk all the ingredients together until it is very smooth. Set aside.
 With the next step of preparation you will need slab bacon. I use slab bacon because of the amount of fat it contains because it keeps the meat tender and juicy. Slice the slab of bacon into pieces just under 1/4″ thick. Now, take each piece of rabbit and completely wrap it in bacon and secure the bacon to the rabbit using toothpicks. After all the rabbit has been wrapped in bacon, begin placing it in the brine, making sure to completely cover each piece. Once all the rabbit is in the brine, place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to let the meat rest and absorb the brine. I prepared mine the day before giving it about a 21 hour soak.
I personally used my medium sized smoker. I pre-soaked my wood in a watery mixture that contained salt, pepper, Southern Comfort, lime juice, and some maple syrup. After my fire reached around 480F I let it cool slowly to around 240F and then placed in the wet wood which brought my temperature down to 180F. Place the bacon wrapped rabbit on the smoker with about 1/2″ between the pieces for best smoke penetration. Now, don’t touch it for 2 to 2 1/4 hours. Don’t even look at it. There is no need to open the smoker to check on the progress, it is doing just fine on it’s own. After the time is up the bacon wrapped rabbit should be dark and smokey. Remove it from the smoker and serve with whatever you choose, you had plenty of time to make side dishes.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you do not have rabbit available, squirrel or chicken can be substituted as the meat choice. Let me know what y’all think. If you have any questions please free to ask me here or e-mail me. Just use something that refers to the rabbit recipe in the subject line.