Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rabbit Pie... Shooting parties and Wild Fare!


Last weekend some friends, who own a neighbouring estate, invited us over for lunch. They served a rabbit pie, which Richard had made from a rabbit he shot the night before. It was delicious. Which got me to thinking: why had I never tried rabbit before?

Known to city folk as cute little cotton-tails, portrayed as victims in such classics as Watership Down; but known to farmers as marauding vermin who are at best a free meal, and at worst the destroyer of the crops which provide their livelihood; these little creatures, I must say, are incredibly under rated.

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As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall puts it:

If I described to you a meat that was low in fat, delicate in flavour and hugely versatile, would you be interested? If I added that it was inexpensive, usually sourced very locally, and subject to none of the serious welfare concerns that attach to so much of the flesh we eat, would I have closed the deal? Such a meat certainly does exist - in abundant supply. But very few of us eat it.

I'm talking about wild rabbit. And I really rate it. Portioned, on the bone, it's an excellent meat for stews or casseroles. Boneless and trimmed, it makes a nifty stir-fry. And minced, well-seasoned and mixed with a bit of good fatty sausage meat, it can be pressed into service as a fantastic burger, too.


So, I've copied the recipe from our hosts, and here it is to share with you now...


Rabbit, Prune, Bacon and Leek Pie


1 Rabbit (500g of meat)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
a little flour for dusting
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, washed and trimmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
200g streaky bacon, chopped.
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch thyme
1 cup cider
500ml chicken stock
1 cup cream
a pinch of grated nutmeg
stlt and freshly ground black pepper
100g putted prunes, chopped
400g flaky pastry
1 whole egg, beaten


Dust the chopped meat with flour and add to the foaming hot butter and cook till lightly coloured on all sides. Set meat aside. Cook onions in meat pan for 3 mins without colouring. Add leaks and garlic and cook for 2-3 mins till leaks soften. Add bacon and bay leaf and thyme. Then return rabbit to the pan. Pour in the cider and stock and simmer gently for 40 mins. Remove meat and as much vegetable as possible, then reduce the stock by half on a high heat. Then add the cream and simmer for 15 mins. Sprinkle in nutmeg and add salt and pepper if necessary. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the bones and place it in a bowl. Place meat in a pie dish and sprinkle on the chopped prunes. Pour over the sauce and cool for 30 mins in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Roll out pastry to fit the pie dish, leaving 2 cm overhang. Dampen the edge of the dish with water and drape pastry over the top, then crimp the edges. Make a steam hole in the centre of the pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 40 mins or until the pastry is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the filling comes out hot. Serves 6 (although, I suspect some rabbits may serve more....)



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12 comments:

  1. I would love to get hold of the one digging gigantic tunnels through the vegetable garden at the moment although I suspect I couldn't kill it - darn those beautiful soulful eyes! I once read that if rabbit was the only meat eaten it would be possible to starve to death as it takes mores from the body than it gives in vitamins and minerals. Hope you are getting beautiful autumn days up your way.

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  2. That sounds really delicious, I have tried rabbit before, but it never really springs to mind when considering the family menu.. maybe it should!
    :)

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  3. David, this post really takes the old saying 'What's up Doc?' to a new level!
    Millie ^_^
    P.S. My darling Mum used to do a disgusting braise of bunny in a white parsley sauce when we were kids. Sadly I can't put a morsel of bunny in my mouth ever again.

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  4. Hello Lord Cowell,
    We eat rabbit regularly at Darlington House, and enjoy it. I am always baffled that it doesn't appear moree regularly (well, at all) on tables (and in restaurants) here in America. My main challenge with rabbit is procuring it as it requires planning and pre-ordering to get it. I am not up to catching and dressing it myself at the moment. As I shared with fellow-blogger Lindaraxa, a good source for tasty rabbit dishes is Patricia Wells' excellent "Bistro Cooking" which has several mouth watering recipes for said animal. Am enjoying following your delightful blog.
    Reggie

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  5. Sounds delicious. I had Bar BQ rabbit when I was a child. The Neighbors had Beautiful Bunnies I used to pet, I was 8 years old.

    It was almost like chicken,but a wild taste, when I found out it was
    my beautiful fluffy,I cryed all
    the way home. I may try it again someday.??? Looks devine and sounds good. I've had Venison too.
    Hated Bear too stringy.

    Farewell Bunnies, don't show this Easter...

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  6. Oh I love the idea of men creating dinner parties :)

    Personally speaking I don't like guns.. hell, I don't like the idea of eating meat very much. But Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is quite correct. Why would you pay money to a huge, profit-making, energy-expending multi-national company to buy food, if it could be sourced locally and cheaply.

    So my only problem is the title of the article. "Shooting parties" in my mind were the pleasure of choice for upper class men (in Britain and elsewhere) right up to the outbreak of WW1 in 1914. They killed everything in sight because it was that sort of party.

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  7. Dear Hels,

    I similarly find killing for the sake of it more than distasteful.

    I am not sure, though, that there is much difference between breeding game for the purpose of shooting and eating it than with raising cattle or sheep for the purpose of slaughtering them for their meat.

    If they have a good life and a quick end, then at least their meat will be more ethical than that of many large supermarket chains, whose poultry is raised en masse in large sheds under fluorescent lighting then electrocuted and sent down a conveyor belt...

    David.

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  8. I left you a comment a couple of days ago but don't know if you received. Your recipe inspired me to post mine at the risk of getting hate mail from my readers here in the US. As my friend Reggie mentioned, most Americans suffer from Bunny-itis but to my surprise, have had quite a positive response ie no hate mail!. Do try this recipe next time rabbit is available, you will like it!

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  9. I live in an area with a rather large, Italian population. Rabbit is sold in some of our supermarkets, right beside the veal.
    It looks exactly like your photo. I admit that I enjoy eating it; but I don't think I could prepare, or cook, it.

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  10. I love rabbit, and this recipe sounds divine! I can't wait to try it...Thank you for sharing!

    David @ Ashfield Hansen Design

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  11. hi, guys! i'm a designer and illustrator and came across that darling photo of the rabbit standing upright on your website. is that your personal photo? if so, may i have permission to use it as reference for a drawing? thanks in advance for your consideration.

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  12. Dear Mike or Kim,

    Although not a personal photo, to the best of my knowledge this photo is public domain and therefore you would be free to use it however you wish.

    All the best,
    David.

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