Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet Recipes

Fried Muskrat or Rabbit

This recipe from Fort St James is for muskrat, but our chefs made it with rabbit instead with a tasty result!

Fried Muskrat or Rabbit

Origin: Fort St. James National Historic Site
Region: West (British Columbia)
Period: Traditional
Course: Main Course

Fort St. James National Historic Site Fort St. James National Historic Site
© Parks Canada

Fort St. James National Historic Site tells the story of the fur trade on the Pacific slope. Founded by Simon Fraser in 1806 for the North West Company, the fort became the headquarters of a vast fur trading district in north Central British Columbia called New Caledonia. The isolation, hard work, severe winters and poor diet earned Fort St. James the name “The Siberia of the Fur Trade.”

The main food for the fur traders was smoked salmon and dried salmon. Over the course of the year, this diet became very monotonous, and the men trapped fresh beaver and muskrat to provide an innovative and welcome variation to their bland menu.

Story adapted from Parkland Palate, compiled by Anne (Nesbitt) Mense, Ark Publishing, 1984.

Fried Muskrat or Rabbit


  • 1 muskrat or rabbit
  • 2 tsp | 10 ml salt
  • 3 cups | 750 ml water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup | 250 ml milk
  • 1 tsp | 5 ml salt
  • 2 cups | 250 g flour
  • 1 cup | 250 ml cooking fat for shallow frying


  • For muskrat only: Remove the fat, scent glands and white tissue inside each let. Soak the muskrat overnight in 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 quart water.
  • Cut the muskrat or rabbit into desired pieces. Simmer the meat for 60 minutes in water or stock with a mirepoix. The water should be 1-2" above the meat. Drain, cool and dry the meat with a clean cloth.
  • Make a smooth batter by beating the egg yolks with the milk. Then add the salt and flour. Chef's note: a tempura batter would also work for a lighter batter.
  • Heat the fat in a heavy frying pan (fat should be ½" deep). Dip the meat in the batter, then fry in the hot fat until brown and crispy. When brown, reduce the heat, cover and cook slowly until thermometer inserted in thickest part of muskrat or rabbit reads 160 F (70°C). You could also remove the browned rabbit from the pan, drain and finish in the oven at 375°F (190°C).


Recipe tested by Chef Scott Warrick, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism

Adapted from a recipe by Ken Green (Fort St. James National Historic Site) which appeared in the book Parkland Palate, compiled by Anne (Nesbitt) Mense and published by Ark Publishing, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1984.

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