Confession Time – I shot three jackrabbits on a Sunday, forgot about them in the fridge and got on a plane to Denver. This resulted in a problem. Bless my wife but she sure as heck is not going to gut and skin a rabbit. Nor are my boys, yet. But they could freeze them. As instructed my oldest son grabbed the bag the rabbits were in, and set them in my chest freezer.
And there they stayed for six months. I know, terrible. But the skin actually acted as a protective barrier and kept the meat quite nice. When I did get around to clearing out that part of the freezer I thawed the rabbits for a few days; they were perfect. I was thrilled to get the sizable amount of space the rabbits took up back.
In order to get my freezer “fall ready” I make it a goal to utilize all my scrap from the previous season. I’ll make sausage or jerky or even confit stuff. But this time my goal was to get “camp meat” for the fall. I wanted a “no refrigeration needed” meat that I could haul into the backcountry with me. Something other than jerky. I knew about canning meat, or jarring meat to be more specific, but I had never done it. It requires a pressure canner – something I did not own.
Luckily for me a quick look on craigslist and I came up with an inexpensive pressure canner. The variety I ended up with is a “Victory Model” from World War 2. It is simply amazing. Sure, a new canner would be cool but this old school model was all a guy needs.
With thawed rabbits and a new to me pressure cooker I set out to make meat. First I deboned the rabbits, then I cubed them, then I browned them in hot oil, then I tossed them in “taco” seasoning. Next I added them to jars with a little stock and canned them. It was super easy, I was pleasantly surprised.
As with all preserving – keeping sanitary is a must. Clean hands, clean jars, clean lids – clean everything. With canning, and all preservation really, you are trying to defeat the forces of nature that rot food. A hard project and one that if not done right is downright dangerous.
When I was don canning the meat I could not wait to try it out. The next afternoon I opened a jar and made myself a quick quesadilla out of the meat. Unreal, I basically had shredded rabbit meat in a jar ready to eat whenever I am hungry. I am going to be canning meat a lot more in the future.
2# cleaned rabbit meat, diced
¼ cup canola oil
1 packet “taco seasoning”
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ onion diced
1 cup chicken stock or water
Place a 12 inch heavy bottomed pan on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add half the canola and carefully add the rabbit meat a little at a time. Do not overcrowd the pan, the meat will not brown properly. Add more oil as needed to keep the pan from being dry bottomed. When all the meat is brown add it all back to the pan and toss with taco seasoning. Remove meat from pan to a plate. Add garlic, onion and chicken stock to the pan.
Bring the pan to a boil, scrape the bottom for all the good chunks of brown. This is called “fond” by the way. Remove pan from heat.
Next pack the meat to clean wide mouthed jars. Then add the pan drippings to each jar, distributing them evenly. But make sure to leave at least a ½ inch of head room on the jar. Top each jar with a clean lid and clean ring. Place into pressure canner and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to follow all instructions for canning very carefully.