You will need: a rabbit.
You will also need: carrots, Calvados, flour, celery, salt and pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, and a very sharp knife.
1. Get a Good Specimen.
Like poultry, rabbits must be cooked fresh; if not, they are unwholesome. Older rabbits are best for soups and stews, younger ones are more suitable for roasting. The ideal rabbit for roasting is two years old, with soft, thin ears that are easy to tear and smooth, pointed claws. Be warned, though: paying too much attention to either area will arouse suspicion and make your specimen jumpy. Also, the pad under its paws should be well developed (it disappears with age). Having identified an attractive specimen, call him up and invite him over; not too late, though — rabbits are early risers.
2. On the Day.
Serve crudités. Carrots are a perfectly acceptable amuse-gueule, though younger rabbits will be keen to try local garden specialities. Broad-leaved garlic stalks are currently very popular, as is rocket salad. Rabbits, remember, are strictly vegan: no wings, no jerky, no cheese on the nachos.
2.1 Concerning Cocktails.
Yes, always good; most rabbits love a tipple at sunset. Be wary, however, of rabbits over-indulging in Pink Gin, for example. An inebriated rabbit is a giddy rabbit, and there’s a lot of cutting ahead, for which you will require a steady hand and as few complications as possible. But a single Bloody Mary, served with a celery stick, is perfect. Lots of cracked pepper, heavy on the Worcestershire, but for heaven’s sake, go easy with the Tabasco.
3. Conversation Don’ts.
Always address your specimen by his given name, and never as Doc or Bunny. Do not comment on overbites. And please, no jokes involving speech impediments. Do not commend your rabbit on his species’ propensity to breed; steer clear of sex, Playboy, and the Easter Bunny. Also, The Mad Hatter had tea with the March Hare. You bet there’s a difference. And while we’re on the subject, the old hare-in-the-soup joke? Please, refrain.
4. Conversation Dos.
You may be surprised how many rabbits have read Sartre — do comment on the futility of life and sigh. Apologize for not having made a bigger effort with the finger food, but like everything these days, what’s the point? I mean, we’re all going to die — yes, all of us — so really, what’s the point? This is an ideal moment to leave your rabbit for a moment of quiet contemplation, just long enough for you to change the music from Sounds of Valley Streams to Watership Down. Dim the lights, smoke a cigarette, check that the curtains are closed.
5. The Fine Points of Preparation.
Take a good sharp knife and make a slit from your rabbit’s collar to his scrotum. Having done so, remove his stomach and intestines. This is best done when rabbit least expects — maybe tell him you’re not so hungry after all and invite him for a game of billiards in the library, or perhaps offer to demonstrate some Greco-Roman wrestling moves. Expect a struggle, though nothing you shouldn’t be able to negotiate. He, your rabbit, may well accuse you of being a cad and a scoundrel and allude to false pretenses. Don’t let it deter you. Drop him from a height, because, unlike cats, rabbits rarely fall on their feet and broken backs are not uncommon. The perfect alibi, should the constabulary arrive at this moment. You can’t be too careful. Deep-freeze his liver for a rainy day, and wipe the innards well with a damp cloth. Remove tail close to body, limbs at first joint. Yes, young boys love them, but evidence is evidence; don’t be tempted to keep them. Loosen the skin and work toward the hind legs. It’s okay, he’s dead. Turn the hind legs inside out and pull off the skin. Retract skin towards the shoulders, skin fore legs as hind legs, decapitate. Voilá! Having laid aside the skin, extract the kidneys, break the diaphragm and discard his heart and lungs. You’re nearly there! Wash him down in tepid water and leave him to steep for an hour. Add a dash of Calvados as it settles the oxidants. And you know what? Have one yourself. You deserve it. You will need to clear the scene of prints and consider how best to dispose of remain-, I mean, leftovers. A good time to ponder this is definitely not while:
6. Cooking Your Rabbit.
Your rabbit is now ready for cooking. The slightly bluish tinge is perfectly normal and denotes freshness, not bruising. Toss the carcass in flour, then sear it in hot bacon fat before popping him in the oven (gas mark 6/220 degrees, 1.5 hour). Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a freshly baked potato, snow peas and strong English mustard. A nice chilled Chardonnay will wash him down nicely. Now, wasn’t that worth it? Bon appetit!