Rabbit is a lean and well flavoured meat, with commercially farmed rabbits having a much milder taste than their wild kin. Both are prepared for cooking in the same way, though wild rabbit is tougher and should be marinated and slow cooked. Deboning a rabbit for the kitchen is no more difficult than deboning a chicken, but the process is somewhat different.
Place a skinned and cleaned rabbit face down on the cutting board. Feel through the thigh of the hind leg to locate the pelvic bone. Cut into the leg from the front and the back, making a line at the outer edge of the pelvic bone.
Turn the rabbit face up, and repeat the same cuts on the inside of the thigh. Flex the leg until you can see the hip joint, and sever it with the tip of the knife. Cut the leg away from the body. Repeat for the other hind leg.
Slide your knife blade underneath the shoulder blade at the back of the foreleg. Cut straight forward, and the leg will come off cleanly. Repeat with the other foreleg.
Cut along either side of the backbone to begin separating the loins. Peel back the layers of protective tissue that cover the loins, then make cuts across the end of each loin at the head and tail ends.
Slice horizontally along the ribs to free the loins from the backbone and rib cage. Turn the carcase upside down, and carefully cut away the tenderloins from the inside of the rib cage.
Place a hind leg on your cutting board, with the inner thigh facing up. Feel for the thigh bone and draw the tip of your knife from the hip end of it to the knee end. Carefully cut around the hip end of the joint, and cut the flesh away from each side of the thigh bone.
Rotate the thigh bone as far as it will go in each direction, and cut it away from the meat underneath. Cut around the knee joint, and continue down to the smaller leg bones. Free the flesh from both sides and beneath the bone as with the thigh bone.
Twist the leg bone so that it comes free from the leg meat. There will usually be some connective tissue holding the knee bone to the meat. Cut this with your knife, and remove any visible tendons, then repeat with the other hind leg.
Feel the foreleg to locate the shoulder blade, which has a ridge down the middle like a chicken's breastbone. Cut the meat away from either side of the ridge, then turn the leg over and scrape the meat from the flat underside of the shoulder blade.
Cut the flesh away from the leg bones, working from either end and meeting at the knee. Twist the bones out of the meat, and sever any connective tissue at the knee. The usable portions of the rabbit are now deboned, and ready for use.
The meat remaining on the bones is of little value, but the carcase will make a well-flavoured rabbit stock to serve as the basis for a soup, stew or sauce.
Clean and sanitise all surfaces that have come into contact with the uncooked rabbit.