Tag Archives: Stephanie Alexander

Winter Comfort Food : Rabbit Pie

26 Feb

My husband surprised me last weekend by announcing that he had purchased some rabbit joints at the supermarket a few weeks back. The surprise was not that he had purchased some kind of game meat but that he wanted me to make pies with it. It hasn’t been a particularly cold winter here in Geneva but it is the winter season and good hearty winter food should be consumed – even if the sun is streaming through the windows!

The eating of rabbits is part of our family history. We have a family property back in Australia where wild rabbits run rampant, the enemy, and given that rabbits are “the building blocks of any true hunter’s repertoire” my Dad and sister would proudly bring home their furry loot for my mother to cook up and as I grew older and got married my husband would bring home his trophies for me to cook.

I’ve used a few different recipes for rabbit pie over the years and honestly cannot remember which was the best one or the easiest or the quickest or the tastiest but since I had just bought back my Stephanie Alexander Cook’s Companion from Australia I thought it proper to use her recipe. Rabbits are best braised but we have previously attempted roasting one. This recipe requests 1 whole wild rabbit with a note to say that “A farmed rabbit would be an extravagance for this dish“. Wild rabbits have firm, meaty flesh and a subtle, gamey flavour whereas farmed rabbits lack this depth of flavour and can be fatty and bland in comparison. I’m not entirely sure what we had as the package just said rabbit pieces but at a hunch I’d say we had a farmed rabbit (or 5 pieces of farmed rabbit).

It’s a long recipe (as in time) but not very complicated so just make sure you have a few hours or a whole afternoon set aside to make this. This recipe will sufficiently feed 4 people.

Ingredients

1 whole wild rabbit (about 1.5kg)
2 litres Stock (or water)
1 stick celery, chopped
½ carrot, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 piece lemon zest
1 stalk parsley
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
100g smoked streaky bacon, minced
200g button mushrooms, sliced
100g flaked almonds, toasted
1 cup freshly chopped parsley
1 quantity Shortcrust Pastry
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
sauce
150g butter
150g plain flour
1.25 litres reserved cooking liquid
200ml cream
juice of 2 lemons
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method

Remove kidneys and liver from rabbit and reserve. Simmer rabbit in stock with celery, carrot, onion, zest, herbs and peppercorns until back legs test tender, about 1-2 hours. Allow rabbit to cool completely in stock. Remove rabbit and set strained cooking liquid aside. Strip all meat from carcass and cut into small pieces. Discard bones.

Lightly saute bacon and mushrooms and quickly sear reserved kidneys and liver. Chop kidneys and liver and mix with rabbit meat, bacon, mushrooms and almonds in a bowl. Mix in parsley and season well. Cover with plastic wrap.

To make the sauce, cook butter and flour over a gentle heat to make a roux. Gradually stir in reserved rabbit stock and bring to simmering point. Add cream and lemon juice and simmer for 10 minutes, using a simmer mat to prevent sauce sticking. Check for seasoning, then add enough sauce to meat to make a creamy, not sloppy, filling. Allow to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a 28cmx18cmx5cm pie dish with pastry (reserve some pastry to make a latticed top if you wish) and bake blind for 20 minutes. I have these great little individual springform tins which I like to make my pies in so feel free to make individual portion pies if you can.

Remove pastry case from oven and allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 180C. Spoon filling into pastry case. Scatter breadcrumbs on top and criss-cross strips of pastry over the filling if you wish. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry is well browned.

Eat and stay warm this winter!

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