Remove the head; skin and draw, cut out the waxy glands under the front legs where they join the body; soak in cold salted water for one hour; rinse in fresh cold water and wipe dry.
For frying, select only young rabbits, or parboil first with salt and pepper. Cut off legs at body joint, and cut the back into three pieces. Sprinkle with flour and fry brown on both sides. Remove rabbit to a dish kept hot over a few coals. Make a gravy as follows: Put into the pan a small onion previously parboiled and minced and add one cup boiling water. Stir in gradually one or two tablespoonfuls of browned flour; stir well, and let it boil one minute. Season with pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Pour it over the rabbit.
To bake in an oven: stuff with a dressing made of bread crumbs, the heart and liver (previously parboiled in a small amount of water), some fat salt pork, and a small onion, all minced and mixed together, seasoned with pepper, salt, and nutmeg, and slightly moistened with the water in which heart and liver were parboiled. Sew up the opening closely; rub butter or dripping over rabbit, dredge with flour, lay thin slices of fat pork on back, and place it in pan or Dutch oven, back uppermost. Pour into pan a pint or more of boiling water (or stock, if you have it), and bake with very moderate heat, one hour, basting every few minutes if in pan, but not if in Dutch oven. Prepare a gravy with the pot juice, as directed above.
Rabbits are unfit to eat in late summer, as their backs are then infested with warbles, which are the larvae of the rabbit bot-fly.
To call our possum an opossum, outside of a scientific treatise, is an affectation. Possum is his name wherever he is known and hunted, this country over. He is not good until you have freezing weather; nor is he to be served without sweet potatoes, except in desperate extremity. This is how to serve "possum hot."—
Stick him, and hang him up to bleed until morning. A tub is half filled with hot water (not quite scalding) into which drop the possum and hold him by the tail until the hair will strip. Take him out, lay him on a plank, and pull the hair out with your fingers. Draw, clean, and hang him up to freeze for two or three nights. Then place him in a 5-gallon kettle of cold water, into which throw two pods of red pepper. Parboil for one hour in this pepper-water, which is then thrown out and the kettle refilled with fresh water, wherein he is boiled one hour.
While this is going on, slice and steam some sweet potatoes. Take the possum out, place him in a large Dutch oven, sprinkle him with black pepper, salt, and a pinch or two of sage. A dash of lemon will do no harm. Pack sweet potatoes around him. Pour a pint of water into the oven, put the lid on, and see that it fits tightly. Bake slowly until brown and crisp. Serve hot, without gravy. Bourbon whiskey is the only orthodox accompaniment. If you are a teetotaler, any plantation darky can show you how to make "ginger tea" out of ginger, molasses, and water. Corn bread, of course.
It is said that possum is not hard to digest even when eaten cold, but the general verdict seems to be that none is ever left over to get cold.
When you have no oven, roast the possum before a high bed of coals, having suspended him by a wet string, which is twisted and untwisted to give a rotary motion, and constantly baste it with a sauce made from red pepper, salt, and vinegar.
Possum may also be baked in clay, with his hide on. Stuff with stale bread and sage, plaster over him an inch of stiff clay, and bake as previously directed. He will be done in about an hour.