Rabbit Legs Sous-Vide with Fresh Fig Sauce

A few weeks ago I was envious of the fresh figs Richard McGary used for his wonderful Chicken Quarters with Fig Chutney, as good quality fresh figs are very hard to get in this country. I remember eating fresh figs in southern Italy and being impressed how great they were compared to the watery imported stuff I’m used to. But lo and behold, quite soon afterwards I picked up some very decent fresh figs from the market and they were even a bargain. As I picked up a rabbit from the same market, I pretty soon came up with the idea to prepare the rabbit with a fresh fig sauce.

I made my fig sauce more Italian by omitting the soy sauce and calling it “sauce” rather than “chutney”, but otherwise I’ve pretty much followed Richard’s recipe. It worked very well with the rabbit, which is a bit lighter in taste than chicken so leaving out the soy sauce was a good idea. Thanks, Richard!

Did you know there is such a thing as rabbit flank steak? Beef flank steak is the abdominal muscle of the cow, and in my opinion the similar cut of a rabbit is actually the best part! This cut is probably more commonly known as flap meat. I had bought a whole rabbit. For this recipe I used the legs and flap meat, cooked them sous-vide and served them with the fresh fig sauce. I used the rabbit’s loins to make rabbit saltimbocca, and the rest of the rabbit I used to make rabbit stock of which half was used to make the fig sauce.  The flap meat was very tender and juicy after cooking it sous-vide for 3 hours at 60C/140F. Then I browned it quickly in clarified butter over very high heat, and it was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, rabbit flap meat is not usually sold separately because I would love to create a dish using only that part of the animal.

The legs were pretty good too though — as I mentioned before, sous-vide cooking guarantees rabbit meat that is both tender and juicy. If you don’t have a sous-vide cooker you could try to prepare this recipe by carefully braising the rabbit legs and flap meat, but it will be quite hard to get it tender and juicy rather than dry or tough. If you don’t like rabbit, you could also serve the fig sauce with chicken legs.


For 2 servings

legs and flap meat of 1 rabbit

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp clarified butter

For the fig sauce

6 fresh figs

250 ml (1 cup) rabbit stock

2 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar, preferably at least 12 years old

1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 shallot, minced

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Wash and dry the rabbit pieces. Rub on all sides with a mixture of olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and thyme.

Vacuum seal.

Cook sous-vide for 3 hours at 60C/140F.

Meanwhile, prepare the fig sauce. Sauté the shallot in the oil over medium heat until it just starts to color.

Wash and dry the figs. Cut off the stems and chop them roughly.

Add the figs to the onions and sauté for a minute.

Add the rabbit stock…

…and the balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have balsamic that has been aged at least 12 years, I would recommend to use only a single tablespoon and add a pinch of brown sugar.

Cook over medium low heat, stirring, until the fig sauce has a nice thick consistency, about 10-15 minutes. Add the thyme for the last minute or so of cooking. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You may also like to add some more balsamic or a pinch of brown sugar. Keep warm over very low heat.

At the end of the cooking time, take the rabbit pieces out of the sous-vide pouch. Discard the liquid in the pouch. Pat the rabbit pieces dry with paper towels.

Melt the clarified butter in a heavy frying pan over high heat. Add the rabbit pieces and brown them quickly over very high heat.

Serve the rabbit with the fig sauce on warm plates.

Wine pairing

We enjoyed this with a dry medium-bodied Italian rosé from the Marche, made from montepulciano grapes. The rosé works well with the fig sauce because of the notes of red fruit. Whatever wine you should, it should match the sweetness and acidity of the fig sauce for them to work well together.


22 thoughts on “Rabbit Legs Sous-Vide with Fresh Fig Sauce

  1. Excellent as always Stefan. He many posts are you going to squeeze out of that rabbit? I am envious as each is better than the previous. Excellent method (and figs).


  2. Stefan – you are just such an amazing cook !! One quick comment about cooking rabbit. I’ve already told you my whole “Maltese rabbit” thingy.. but here’s one more remark regarding how the Maltese cook rabbit. One of their favorite ways is to brown the rabbit parts, then simmer it in a Italian red pasta sauce containing red wine. Cooked this way, the rabbit is always very tender – and delicious!


    1. Thanks Cecile. I think you are referring to what the Italians call Coniglio alla Cacciatora (in the hunter’s wife’s style). I’ve tried to make this before I had sous-vide a few times, and ended up with tender but dry rabbit. It probably depends on the quality of the rabbit. I have had tender and juicy stewed rabbit, so I know that it is possible 😉


      1. Stefan – you ALWAYS amaze me with your knowledge! Thank you. And I bet you’re 100% correct that it depends upon the rabbit itself. Just like an old chicken, I bet an old rabbit wouldn’t cook up nice & tender.


  3. Very interesting though simple recipe – I do love the use of figs! [Off topic: sincerely hope St. Jude’s passed too far north of you to cause personal damage!]


  4. Nice rabbit, Stefan. Glad you found some nice, ripe figs. They are so flavorful and I’m sure paired beautifully with the rabbit. As for rabbit flanks, Thomas Keller does a dish with rabbit flank bonded to Applewood smoked bacon that sounds over the top. I would love to try it but it uses 30 rabbit flanks. 😮 Only a commercial kitchen (or a rabbit farm) can do that.


  5. Conor’s comment gave me a chuckle, Stefan. You did get the most out of that one rabbit. It says a great deal of your creativity and abilities as a chef. Today’s dish looks delicious and you’ve plated it expertly. Nicely done, all way ’round.


  6. The figs are gorgeous, Stefan. The ingredients in the sauce sound like the compliment each other very well – especially the addition of thyme. I adore figs – especially when paired with savory foods like meats and cheeses – and especially with balsamic vinegar. By the way, your vinegar looked quite rich and thick – just scrumptious. I enjoyed reading this post – and only wish I had some fresh figs and tender rabbit flap meat right now!


        1. The most decadent stuff has been aged 25 years and is over $100 for less than half a cup. It’s so expensive because most of the original grape juice has evaporated by then.


          1. Ah, yes. I have tried nice balsamics! MMMMMMM.

            Our house balsamic is aged for only a couple of years. There are too many balsamic eaters in this house to afford the nice stuff… though maybe I will have a secret stash soon… 😉


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