Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating rabbit with a side of carrots

March 13, 2013

When spring rolls around, it's not uncommon to find rabbit on the menu at many restaurants. Most meat-eaters don't get hung up on the idea of eating the Easter Bunny, but if your inner 5-year-old is the sensitive type, it might trouble you that rabbit is often served with an accompaniment of Bugs Bunny's favorite food: carrots.

Romeo Gacad, AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Romeo Gacad, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Why's that? The two tastes go well together, wrote Melissa Clark in the New York Times. "The combination makes sense on a culinary level. Lean and mild, rabbit takes well to sweet flavors." Rabbit is also served in hearty dishes that already pair well with root vegetables, like casseroles and stews.

If that carrot-and-rabbit combination gives you a squidgy feeling, relax. Carrots aren't actually a huge part of a rabbit's diet; the animals mostly eat hay. (They also like broccoli, cabbage and kale, if any enterprising chefs are looking for new ideas.) As for the carrots and rabbit, you'll find them on the menu together at the following places:

Bistrot du Coin: Casserole de Lapin à la moutarde, rabbit stew in a light creamy mustard sauce with carrot, onions, mushrooms and spaetzle. $20.95.

Ristorante Tosca: Carrot-flavored pappardelle with a rabbit ragu in a white wine sauce and fresh thyme. $26.

Ardeo + Bardeo: Ricotta agnolotti, rabbit bolognese, carrot puree. $14.

The Green Pig Bistro: Rabbit cake (like crab cake but with rabbit), is served with seasonal vegetables, which has included a carrot puree in the past. Sweet potato and Brussels sprouts are presently on the menu. $23.

Firefly: A four-course, $65 rabbit tasting menu to celebrate spring from March 26 through April 1, featuring crispy rabbit leg, spring carrots and peas, red eye gravy and potato puree. For dessert: Carrot sorbet.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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Alex Baldinger · March 13, 2013