Rabbit Papillotes

Lapin en Papillotes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Servings:


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

The recipe indicates only the rear of the rabbit; there is practically no flesh on the rib section and the forelegs, and although they are as nicely flavored as any part of the rabbit and are the least likely to dry out during cooking, they are too skimpy to serve, at least first. If more than one rabbit is being prepared, these pieces can be put aside with the heads for a stew. Otherwise, split the rib cage, marinate it and the forelegs with the rest, and put all four pieces into a single large papillote to serve as seconds. (The liver cannot be used in this preparation; rabbit livers are extraordinarily large, one being a sufficient portion for a person. Cooked gently, seasoned, in butter on each side until firm but still pink, it is surpassed in delicacy only by calf’s liver.)

The aluminum foil is not as attractive as parchment paper, but the preparation is extremely rapid and the result otherwise as good. Care should be taken that no sharp edges or fragments of splintered bones are bared, perhaps piercing the aluminum foil and thus letting either steam or juices escape during cooking. The rabbit pieces may each be wrapped in a slice of bacon and, there too, if the bacon is fixed with a toothpick or other sharp stick, it must be so placed as to not touch the foil casing.


  • The saddle of the rabbit, cut across into two equal sections and the two hind legs
  • Finely crumbled mixed dried herbs (thyme, oregano, savory, marjoram—your choice)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • Snail butter (1 large clove garlic pounded to a paste, 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped parsley, large pinch finely ground mixed dried herbs, salt, pepper, 3 tablespoons butter, all mashed together until thoroughly mixed)


Pierce each piece of meat deeply, a number of times, using a small and sharply pointed knife and following the grain of the meat (straight through from one cut side to the other for the saddle sections; pierce at a sharp bias, almost parallel to the bone, but directed toward it, for the legs), forcing a healthy quantity of snail butter into each vent as you go. Sprinkle the pieces lightly but evenly with dried herbs, turn them around in a bowl with the olive oil, and leave to marinate for several hours (if time permits—not essential).

Enclose each, salted and peppered at the last minute and well coated with oil, in a large (12- to 14-inch) square of aluminum foil, placed flat on a table, the sides drawn up, pinched together and folded twice upon themselves (or more when necessary to avoid bizarre forms), firmly pinched for air-tightness, the pinched border forming a crest the length of the vaguely omelet shape. Place them, not touching, on a flat pastry sheet and bake in a hot oven (450°) for from 35 to 40 minutes. Slit open at table. A potato or a vegetable gratin provides a good accompaniment.