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Monday, 7 March 2011

Rabbit Pie


I’ve seen various recipes for rabbit pie and this is my version, which in one way or another is probably an adaption of those recipes.
I thought it very apt to make it, in celebration of British Pie Week and have included some flavours that conjure up the British countryside, wild rabbit, of course, apples and cider. For an old-fashioned feel, I perked up the sauce with mace and mustard.
The pastry is very short, as in the ratio of fat to flour is quite high, but it makes the pastry so melt-in-the-mouth gorgeous.

Please do try to use wild rabbit as I’m sure it has had a better life before being killed, plus a diet of wild grass and herbs can only improve the taste.
Wild rabbit is easy to come by these days – you’ll find it at your farmers' market or, dare I say, even in the supermarket.

Ingredients
For the pastry
225g strong white flour
half tsp salt
100g unsalted butter
50g lard

For the filling
knob of butter
small amount of vegetable oil
300g boneless wild rabbit
1 tblsp plain flour
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
generous pinch ground mace
150ml cider
sprig thyme
half tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
2 tblsp creme fraiche
half an eating apple, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
25g mushrooms, sliced
1 tspn fresh tarragon, chopped
beaten egg or milk to glaze

Method
First make your pastry.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and cut in the fat and rub in lightly with your fingertips until the mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
Add a very small amount of chilled water. The less you add, the better as this results in a light crumbly pastry.
Stir in with a knife until the pastry just starts to stick together. Form into a ball.
This process can also be made in a food processor, just whiz together the flour, salt and fat until combined an while the machine is still running add the water a tiny bit at a time until a ball magically appears.
Wrap the ball of pastry in some cling film and put in the fridge.

Now make the filling.
Preheat the oven to Gas4 / 180C / 350F.
Cut the rabbit into 2.5cm pieces. Place in a bowl and sprinkle over the flour. Stir and shake the bowl to evenly coat the meat with the flour.

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan and put in the rabbit pieces. Fry gently until they take on light golden colour. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and transfer to a lidded casserole pot.

Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and add the onions, carrot and celery. Fry gently until they soften but do not let them burn.
When they have softened transfer them to the casserole with the rabbit.

Return the pan to the heat and pour in the cider and bring to a simmer, scraping ap all the bits on the bottom and sides of the pan and stir well.
Tip the cider into the casserole. Add a sprig of thyme, the mustard, mace and some salt and pepper. Mix well to combine everything.

Put the lid on the casserole pot and place in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and retrieve any thyme stalks and discard. Add the apples, mushrooms and creme fraiche and stir well to combine.
Transfer to a pie dish and allow to cool.

When the filling is cold, preheat the oven to Gas 6 / 200C / 400F.
Knead the pastry slightly, and roll our fairly thickly, so it’s big enough to cover the pie.

Moisten the edges of the dish and place the pastry on top. Press the edges down lightly on to the rim and trim.
Roll out the trimmings to make a decoration for the top.
Brush with the egg or milk to give a lovely golden glaze.

Cook in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Photo: ©childsdesign 2011

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