Rabbit with spring vegetables, pea shoots and tarragon

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This delightful rabbit recipe from Phil Howard is full of the joys of spring, but with a few tweaks could be served all year round. Tarragon complements the mild flavour of rabbit brilliantly, but go easy, tarragon has a propensity to overpower when used in large quantities.

First published in 2015





Spring vegetables

Tarragon cream

To serve

  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar


  • Blender
  • Salad spinner


For the rabbit, place a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan on the stove over a medium heat. When it is hot, season the rabbit legs generously with salt and pepper, add the oil to the pan and then the legs. Cook until lightly golden
Transfer to an oven preheated to 150°C/Gas Mark 2 and roast for 7–8 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the garlic, swirl it around in the pan and leave to rest for half an hour
Drain all the juices into a small container and set the rabbit and juices aside at room temperature
Place a large pan of water on to boil and season generously with salt – 7g per litre and at least 2 litres of water in total. Using a peeler with a very fine gauge, peel the asparagus from just below the tip to the base. Cut the bottom 2cm from the ends
Trim any dark green tops from the leeks and remove the outer layer if tough or damaged. Again using a fine peeler, peel the carrots and turnips. Trim the base of the morel stalks and wash them in a large bowl of cold water. Dry in a salad spinner
Add the asparagus to the pan of boiling water and cook for a minute or two, until it is just tender, keeping the pan over a high heat. Using tongs, lift a piece out after 1 minute, cut a small piece from the end and taste it: it must be cooked but al dente
Lift the asparagus out and plunge it into iced water for 30 seconds. Remove, drain in a colander, cut into 2cm lengths and place on a tray lined with a kitchen cloth. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside at room temperature
Similarly cook and refresh the leeks, carrots and turnips, cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Keep covered with a damp cloth at room temperature
Blanch the peas until just cooked. Refresh in iced water and store in a bowl lined with kitchen paper. Blanch the broad beans for 2 minutes, refresh in iced water for 1 minute, then drain in a colander. Pop the beans out of their skins and reserve, covered, at room temperature
Place the Jersey Royals in a pan of salted water, set over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn down and cook for about 15 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat, add the mint and leave to cool in the water
Heat the grapeseed oil in a small frying pan, add the morels and a pinch of salt and sauté over a medium heat for 1 minute
  • 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil
Trim and finely slice the spring onions, then cover and set aside. Slice the radishes as finely as possible, preferably using a mandoline, then cover and set aside. Pick the top 3cm off the pea shoots, wash briefly in cold water and then dry in a salad spinner. Set aside, covered with a damp cloth
Cook the eggs in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Peel the eggs and place them in a blender with the white wine vinegar and several twists of the pepper mill
Blend on medium speed until smooth, then gradually add the oil. You will have a thick, mayonnaise-like emulsion. Now add the tarragon leaves and blend again. When smooth, add about 25ml of the potato water – you need enough to thin it down to a creamy consistency. Check the seasoning; eggs and oil are bland and it will need careful seasoning to bring it to life. Transfer to a plastic squeezy bottle or a small bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge
Drain the potatoes and cut in half. Carve the rabbit meat off the bone and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and add the roasting juices, the teaspoon of sherry vinegar and all the vegetables except the radishes and pea shoots. Toss gently to coat thoroughly. Taste a piece or two and season it if necessary
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
Arrange a flat layer of salad across 8 plates. Gently drizzle some of the tarragon cream over the salad – to evenly coat, but do not drown the ingredients. Garnish with the sliced radishes and pea shoots and serve

Phil Howard has always been a ‘chef’s chef’, quietly notching up years of service and influencing the industry immeasurably. After selling his iconic two Michelin-starred restaurant The Square to open Elystan Street in Chelsea, he has proved himself yet again to be one of the UK's brightest culinary talents.

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