Escabeche (es-kah-BECH-ay) is an ancient preparation historically used with fish or game birds, notably the Spanish red-legged partridge, which is a cousin of our chukars here. Basically you sear the birds and then souse them with a flavorful, vinegar-based sauce for a day or three. You can eat escabeche cold, warm or at room temperature, and I typically serve it as a room temperature, for a light dinner or lunch. If you don't have partridges, use pheasants, quail or grouse. Non-hunters out there, you can either buy quail or pheasants at the market (look in the freezer section) or use Cornish game hens, which are just a baby chickens. Not as flavorful, but easier to find. Could you use a full-sized chicken cut up? You bet.
Cut your birds into serving pieces (leave quail whole) and salt them well. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot with a lid over medium heat and cook the lemon peel in the oil until it browns. Remove and either discard or eat (it's tasty!). This adds another layer of flavor to the escabeche.
Cook the birds. You have two choices here. Either brown them in the olive oil you just flavored with lemon, or paint them with that olive oil and grill them over an open fire. I do the former in winter, the latter in summer.
Saute the onion and carrots in the lemon-flavored olive oil until just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and saute for a another minute, stirring often.
Pour in the vinegar, white wine, all the herbs and spices and bring to a simmer. Return the birds to the pot and add a little water if you need more liquid: You want the birds to be almost submerged, but not completely so. Cover and simmer slowly for 90 minutes. Let the birds cool in the sauce for an hour or so.
Serve cold, warmed up or at room temperature with white wine or beer, and either boiled potatoes or lots of crusty bread.
I always make this a day before I eat it, but you could make it in the morning and serve that night. It will keep in the fridge for a week or so. Note that cook time includes steeping time.