Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

This delightful appetizer featuring rabbit gets its inspiration from a similar dish served at Restaurant Janine. At its root, escabeche is a transcontinental method of preserving and flavouring food using some type of acidity (usually vinegar, but also sometimes wine). Here, the gamey meat finds a nice balance with the sweet, charred cabbage and acidity in the braising liquid-turned-sauce.


  • 3 lb whole rabbit, cut into six pieces (ask your butcher to carve it for you)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 2 large celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups white wine
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon  (see chef’s tip below)
  • 1 tsp green peppercorns in brine,  rinsed and finely crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra if needed
  • 3 slices sourdough bread,  cut into roughly ½-inch cubes
  • 6 large or 10 small Savoy cabbage leaves
  • Chervil, flat-leaf parsley or chives, for garnish


1. Start by making the rabbit escabeche. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Stack two 6-inch squares of cheesecloth on top of each other and spread out flat on a work surface. Place thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds and peppercorns in the centre of the cheesecloth before bringing the corners together and securing this aromatic parcel with kitchen string. Set aside.

3. Pat rabbit legs dry with paper towel, then season with salt and ground pepper. In a Dutch oven, warm oil over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, sear rabbit legs until well browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add carrots, celery, onions and garlic along with a good pinch of salt. Sauté until vegetables are tender but not brown (about 3 to 4 minutes). Stir in reserved aromatic parcel, white wine, cider vinegar, water and olive oil. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, before returning rabbit legs along with any accumulated juices. Liquid should cover legs by at least ½ inch. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and transfer to your oven. Let rabbit braise until meat is fall-apart tender and leg joints bend easily (about 1 hour).

5. While rabbit legs are cooking, make the tarragon green peppercorn mayonnaise. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, tarragon and green peppercorns. Refrigerate until ready to use.

6. In a large frying pan, warm 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add bread cubes and stir to coat in oil. Continue to cook bread, stirring constantly, until golden brown and crisp (about 2 to 3 minutes). Transfer croutons to a paper towel–lined plate and season with a sprinkling of salt. Set aside to cool completely at room temperature. Once cooled, croutons may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

7. Once rabbit is cooked, transfer legs to a rimmed baking tray or large platter. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Place Dutch oven back over medium-high heat and boil liquid, stirring occasionally, until it reduces by about half. Discard aromatic parcel. Sauce may be strained (for a thinner sauce) or blended to incorporate the vegetables (for a thicker sauce).

8. Once rabbit is cool enough to handle, shred meat and place in a bowl. (The skin and bones may be frozen for making stock later.) Add a little of the sauce and mix to combine. The goal is to keep the shredded rabbit moist but not soupy. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and black pepper if desired.

9. Preheat a grill pan or large frying pan over high heat. Working with one cabbage leaf at a time, add a leaf to the pan and cook, turning once or twice, until softened slightly and heavily caramelized in spots (about 1 minute). Set aside on a plate and continue until cabbage leaves are cooked.

10. To plate, lay out 4 warmed shallow bowls. Add a generous mound of shredded rabbit into centre of each bowl. Spread a teaspoon or two of tarragon green peppercorn mayonnaise on the underside of a cabbage leaf and flip onto the mound of rabbit so a thin layer of mayonnaise is between rabbit and cabbage.

11. Press down with your hands to create a dome shape with the cabbage over the rabbit. Drizzle cabbage with a couple of tablespoons of sauce before placing a few croutons around each bowl. Garnish with chervil sprigs, parsley sprigs or long-cut chives, if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Chef’s Tip

If you cannot find fresh tarragon, feel free to use dried. As dried herbs are more potent than their fresh counterparts, a good rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of dried herb for every tablespoon of fresh.

Rabbit Escabeche with Grilled Cabbage and Tarragon Green Peppercorn Mayonnaise
Photo by Clinton Hussey