Tag Archives: Winter Comfort Food

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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Winter Comfort Food : Best Baked Beans on Toast

14 Jan

So the husband and I got back from a ski-turned-hike weekend late on Sunday night (more on that saga later) and having not planned food for our return home we discussed what fast food / take-away options we had. We always have a few tins of Heinz Baked Beans in tomato sauce – because there really is no other kind – stashed at the back of the cupboard for emergency situations such as these but instead of opening up a can we decided to throw together our own batch of baked beans from scratch. Ok so it takes a bit longer than 3 minutes in the microwave but these homemade beans knocked my socks off they were that good. Seriously! And somewhat surprisingly! I honestly didn’t expect it to turn out as good as Heinz but I was wrong.

These beans are so easy and so yummy, I promise you’ll never buy tinned beans again.

Oh wait, you will need to buy a few tins of beans to actually make this recipe unless you want to soak dried beans for a whole day and night or cook them on the stove for a few hours… Tinned beans it is. Would never want to come home from a weekend away and have to stand over the stove cooking beans for a few hours. No way!

You’ll need:

2 x 400g tins of beans, drained and rinsed – we used the big white ones or Cannellini Beans but you can use whatever you have
1 x 400g tin of crushed tomatoes
1 x red onion, finely chopped
2 x cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 x chilli – we used about 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes
Handful of fresh rosemary
Handful of fresh thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp dark treacle – we forgot to add this, oops!
Splash of vinegar – we forgot to add this, oops!
 
Bread for toast – not optional!!

Method

1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Stir and fry for a minute or so until soft and beginning to colour. Season with salt and pepper and add the rosemary and thyme, then add the paprika.

Onion, garlic, chilli, paprika, herbs

Onion, garlic, chilli, paprika, herbs

2. Add the tomatoes and treacle (optional) and half a can of water from rinsing the tomato tin. Then add the vinegar and the butter beans.

Tomatoes and beans

Tomatoes and beans

3. Let it all simmer for 10 minutes and it’ll be ready to serve on hot toast.

Beans on hot buttered toast

Beans on hot buttered toast

Please excuse the mess… I do need to work on my presentation and photography skills 🙂

This is also a seriously cheap and satisfying meal so perfect for those on tight budget.

Having forgotten to add two of the key flavour ingredients I have already decided to try Worchestershire sauce in the next back instead of the treacle and vinegar. I will let you know how that one works out.

How do you eat your beans?
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