Sunday, 6 December 2015

Rabbit rabbit rabbit pie

Coz you won't stop talkin, 
Why don't you give it a rest? 
You got more rabbit than Sainsbury's, 
It's time you got it off your chest.
Chaz N' Dave

Picture the scene. Louise buys rabbit from butchers. Louise wants rabbit for tea. Louise says she wants carrots with it. No other specifications are given. I appear to be cooking. Hmm thinks I, casserole? Oooh, a casserole with a crust! A whatsit... er... pie! But we can't have a whole large pie to ourselves. Cue impromptu dinner party  :-D

I've made this a couple of times now and it is FIT. Seriously tasty. The rabbit has a lovely deep red colour and a nice gamey flavour with an extra savoury punch up the bracket from the mushroom stock and ketchup. Pastry courtesy of Good Housekeeping, filling courtesy of me. Ingredient quantities are approximate but work for an 8 inch / 20cm deep loose bottom cake tin. Better to make too much to fit in the crust than have a small pie!

Rabbit! I used 8 rabbit legs.
Smoked bacon, chop into lardons i.e. 1.5cm cubes
Chicken if you need to bulk it out
A big leek
A couple of big carrots
A couple of handfuls of mushrooms
Mushroom stock cube (the Kallo ones are nice)
Mushroom ketchup 1 tbsp ish (Geo Watkins), I guess a small amount of Worcester sauce would do
Bay leaves, salt pepper
Red wine, large glass or two

Get a casserole pot on the hob, and melt some butter in it. Cut the rabbit off the bone and into chunks, you choose how big. Save the bones. Coat then in flour and brown in the pan in batches, pop them in a bowl on one side when cooked.

More butter, fry leek, carrots and bacon for a couple of minutes. Add red wine (don't be shy) and cook off for a few minutes. Chuck everything else in, bring to boil, lid on, put in oven 150C for 1 hour.

Hot water crust pastry is the bees for this kind of pie. It gives a nice big pie that will stand up on it's own on the chopping board and gets stronger as it cools. Decorations are mandatory.

Make this only when the casserole is ready to come out of the oven as you can't work it as easily when it cools. Thankfully it tends to be very forgiving and lets you handle it lots or re-roll it when you mess up. Again quantity is good for the 8 inch tin.

450g plain flour
90g vegetable fat e.g. Trex
225ml water
Large pinch of salt
Polenta (powdered form)
1 egg, beaten

Grease the cake tin with the vegetable fat. Heat water and fat in a pan until fat melts and water boils. Pour into flour and salt mixture in bowl. Stir in quickly and then knead for a few minutes. Save 1/3rd of it for the lid, roll out the other 2/3rds into a rough circle and then drape and shape it into the deep cake tin. Pad out the corners and patch the inevitable holes.

That's it. Dead easy.

Sprinkle a few tbsp of polenta in the bottom to absorb the liquid (no soggy bottoms) and spoon the casserole in with a slotted spoon, leaving behind the gravy for later. Add the lid, crimp it around the edge, poke a few holes in the top and do your best to make a pastry rabbit as decoration. Apply a beaten egg wash on the top to give it a nice colour, milk just don't cut it.

No need to bake blind, it comes out fine. 1h 15m @ 160C fan. Remove the sides 10 minutes from the end, egg wash the sides, and back in the oven.

This one's had an egg wash, compare to the one earlier in the post that just had a milk wash...

The pie might benefit from being stood for maybe 15 minutes before serving as the pastry seems to tighten up a bit. Thicken up the gravy with a bit of cornflour and serve hot wi' t' pie.

Serve with some nice greens, like sprouts! Good enough for discerning audiences, both of the kids hoovered it up and went for seconds.

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