A lot of cooks are afraid of rabbit. And rightly so. Its a gamey meat so the meat is rare and can get very dry if overcooked. That's why this Stephanie Alexander recipe produces such a delicious result. The rabbit is first slowly poached in a herb and vegetable broth and then mixed with the sauce and baked in a pie shell. And for those who've never been 'game' to have rabbit - yes, it does taste like chicken!
MARY'S RABBIT PIE - from Stephanie Alexander's THE COOKS COMPANION
2 litres chicken stock
1 stick celery chopped
1/2 a carrot
1 piece lemon zest
1 stalk parsley
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
100g streaky smoked bacon finely diced
200g button mushrooms, sliced
100g flaked almonds
1 cup freshly chopped parsley
freshly ground balck pepper and salt
150g plain flour
1.25 litres reserved cooking liquid
200 ml cream
juice of two lemons
freshly fround black pepper
Remove kidneys and liver from the rabbit and reserve. Simmer rabbit in stock with celery, onion, carrot, zest, bay leaf, herbs and peppercorns until back legs test tender - about 1-2 hours.
Allow rabbit to cool completely in stock. Remove rabbit and set strained liquid aside for later use. Strip all meat from carcass and cut into small pieces. Discard bones.
Lightly saute bacon and mushrooms and quickly sear kidneys and liver. Mix rabbit meat with bacon, mushrooms and almonds and chopped kidneys and liver in a bowl. Mix in parsley and season well. Cover with plastic film.
To make the sauce, cook butter and flour over a gentle heat to make a roux. Gradually add the reserved cooking liquid, stirring, and bring to a simmering point. Add cream and lemon juice and simmer for ten minutes on a simmer mat to prevent sauce from sticking. Check for seasoning and add enough sauce to meat to make a creamy, not sloppy, filling. Allow to cool completely.
Preheat oven to 200c. (this next bit is my addition to avoid having to make a shortcrust pastry!)Line a buttered pie dish with store bought pampas puff pastry. Prick holes in the base and bake for ten minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and scoop in the filling, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with another sheet of puff pastry.Brush with milk and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or cold with mustard, chutney or a green leaf salad on the side.
P.S you will have a little broth left-over. Freeze this and either use it for a risotto or a consomme.