When we talked to author Emily Ansara Baines about her recently published book The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, we asked her about the joys of sourcing squirrel in Los Angeles and about cooking — and eating — muskrat. (She suggests substituting chicken for squirrel, unless you're really into that sort of thing, and admits to no great fondness for muskrat.) You can check out recipes for both in Baines' book, as well as, well, more normal recipes, for things like bread and clover-mint tea and Finnick and Annie's wedding cake.
But the one we were really interested in was Baines' recipe for freshly snared barbecued rabbit. Why? Maybe because of a certain 13-year-old girl whose interest in camping revolves solely around rabbit snares, though she has yet to catch an actual rabbit. Maybe because you can get rabbit a lot more easily than squirrel or tree rat. Maybe because rabbit is kind of wonderful: leaner than chicken and a whole lot more flavorful. Maybe because some of us have read M.F.K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf too many times. Or maybe because Easter is just around the corner.
As for where to buy rabbit in Los Angeles, check out this Chowhound thread. If you want to try your hand at catching your own and you don't know how to set a rabbit snare, here's a handy beginner's guide.
As Baines writes in the headnote to the recipe:
As the Hunger Games begin, Katniss has the foresight to make some rudimentary snares and immediately manages to catch “one fine rabbit.” Quick like a bunny (pun intended), Katniss cleans and guts the animal and uses a dead tribute's fire to roast it. Lucky for us, we have an oven and spices, but this recipe will help give us a taste of the wild game Katniss was forced to survive on during the 74th Hunger Games. (The Hunger Games, chapter 12.)
Freshly snared barbecued rabbit
From: Emily Ansara Baines' The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook.
Spicy chipotle rub:
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried ground chipotle
2 tablespooons ground allspice
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried ground cloves
1 tablespoon dried orange zest
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
2 teaspoons onion salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Keeps for up to 3 months.
2 whole small rabbits, cut up in strips
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons spicy chipotle rub (see recipe)
2 cups barbecue sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Lightly coat rabbit pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with the spicy chipotle rub (or rub of your choice). Lay rabbit pieces in a single layer in a baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
3. Combine the barbecue sauce, garlic and sesame oil. Liberally or to taste, brush the sauce on the meat. Continue to bake for 30-60 minutes or more, until meat is fork tender and pulling from the bone. Baste with additional barbecue sauce to taste.