Share |

Rabbit: Versatile, Sustainable, and on the Rise

Chef Cory Bahr’s approach to cooking is simple: he takes what is good and what is available to create dishes that are unpretentious and true to the flavors of his home.  Born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana, Bahr found his culinary roots in his grandmother’s kitchen, where he learned the value of fresh ingredients and clean, straightforward preparation.

“I find the best damn oysters I can get my hands on, and get out of their way,” he says. “I’m not interested in showing how smart I am on a plate.”

The vintage-rustic charm of Restaurant Cotton, which occupies a historic cotton and bourbon warehouse in Monroe, is the perfect atmosphere for Bahr’s North Delta fare. While Chef Bahr is known for his winning appearance on the Food Network’s Chopped! as well as his command over ingredients such as oysters and duck, there is something else on the table at Restaurant Cotton and it’s no novelty.


Sourcing Rabbits by Mark Pasternak (Devil's Gulch Ranch)

Try local FFA (Future Farmers of America), 4-H, Farmers Markets, agricultural extension offices of the state universities, local county farm
advisors and Ag commissioners, local Ag universities, etc.
County Fairs usually have some rabbit folks showing rabbits, and they often have dressed rabbits for sale.
Also the American Rabbit Breeders Assoc (ARBA) and perhaps the Production Rabbit Meat Association (PRMA).

There are at least 3 sources for rabbit meat nationally:
Pel-Freez (
De Bruin Meats (
D' Artagnan (
NONE OF WHOM RAISE THEIR OWN RABBITS, but are potential good sources if one
cannot find an actual producer nearby.


“Rabbit is part of the pantry of the North Delta. This is where I’m from and this is what we eat,” says Bahr of the protein that he grew up cooking with his grandmother.

“Rabbits bridged the gap between deer and duck season so it was often a protein that you’d find in our kitchen. At any given day we would have rabbit cooking in the gumbo pot or fried up next to our venison and dove. It was an element of what we cooked in our household, and a part of the vibrant pantry most cooks have at this time of year in the North Delta.”

Rabbits are also sustainable, Bahr notes, and are making their way back into the kitchen in the south, due in part to an apparent huntable population. Good news, because, according to Bahr, rabbit is extremely versatile. “You can grill it, sear it, fry it, stew it, and so much more.”

Of the many usable and delicious cuts, Chef Bahr likes the hind legs best. “There is more to it than just frying,” he says of his technique. “Here at Cotton we season our meat overnight and slow cook it in duck fat that has been perfumed with rosemary and garlic. We let them rest in the fat then batter and fry them just like you would a chicken leg. It’s the best served with stewed white beans and collard greens from the North Delta. Cooking it in this style, slow and low, accentuates the texture and flavor of the rabbit, which has a perfect subtle gaminess and flavoring of the wild.”

Bahr is encouraging of chefs not yet familiar with using rabbit. “It all comes down to sourcing to find the best rabbit possible,” he says. “Taking a good product and letting your imagination take over, while still being sensible, will lead to great results.”



Restaurant Cotton - Rabbit Tasting Menu


Deviled Rabbit Kidneys


Liver & Toast – Crispy Rabbit Liver with Buttered Challah Toast, 

Arugula, Shaved Radish, and Kumquat Jam


Buffalo Rabbit Wings - With Maytag Blue Cheese, Celery Puree,

Crystal Hot Sauce Glaze, and Celery Leaves


Buttermilk Poached Rabbit Loin – With Pecan Smoked Bacon,

Ranch Dressing, Whipped Cornbread, Pickled Mustard Seeds


Rabbit Belly Schnitzel – With Louisiana Sweet Potato Hash,

Brown Butter, Preserved Lemon, and Fried Capers


Confit Rabbit Leg – With Red Bean Cassoulet, Rabbit Sausage,

Roasted Garlic-Anchovy Aioli


Heirloom Carrot Cake – With Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Heirloom 



Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (5 votes)