This technique is brutally perfect. It requires just three cuts and some pulling if the rabbit is still warm. A freshly killed rabbit is surprisingly easy to skin. This method works on a cold rabbit, too, but you’ll have to use your knife more often or pull with more muscle.
1. Make an inch-long slit in the skin just above the knee on each back leg. Insert your index and middle fingers into the slits and free the skin from the legs. Work around each leg, pulling the skin toward the rabbit’s back and belly to remove it from the entire hindquarter. Tear the skin where necessary to prevent it from bunching or binding. (You may need to cut it if the rabbit has been dead for more than a couple hours.)
2. Place the rabbit on a clean, flat surface such as a large rock, solid stump or cutting board. Hold your knife with its edge up, and cut through the skin on the rabbit’s belly from anus to neck. Be careful not to pierce the stomach or intestines, as their contents can contaminate the meat. A knife with a replaceable scalpel-type blade is a good tool for this task, and wear thin nitrile gloves to guard against blood-borne diseases.
3. Firmly grasp the skin you removed from the back legs, and step on the rabbit’s back feet to hold it in place. Pull the skin toward its head. Grab more hide as it peels from the carcass to improve your grip. Stop if the skin sticks or the meat begins to tear, and use your fingers (or knife) to free the hide. The skin will pull off like a sock over the front legs and neck.
4. Remove the rabbit’s head, feet and tail if it’s still attached; often the tail will pop right off with the skin. Sturdy game shears make quick work of clipping off these unwanted parts. Field-dress the carcass; remember to remove the windpipe by cutting to the end of the neck. Use a paper towel to brush off any hair sticking to the carcass, and wipe out the body cavity.
Looking for a great rabbit recipe? Check out the following links:
• Recipe: Roast Rabbit with Sage Stuffing
• Recipe: Braised Rabbit with Olives and Preserved Lemons
• Recipe: Whiskey Peach Rabbit