Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

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Friday, 10 July 2009

Rabbit Pie

My Todd grew up here in the south of England during World War 2. One of the things they ate a lot during the war was rabbit. Things like meat were very scarce and one could hardly afford to be squeamish about what they ate. In fact, most people kept rabbits in their own back garden specifically for the purpose of eating them.

I have never had a fondness for game and rabbit. Probably because I have been fortunate enough to have grown up in a time when fresh meat and vegetables are quite available and affordable to a degree. Obviously there are still some things that are a bit prohibitive in cost, but then again they are considered luxuries and not something you would eat on a daily basis anyways!

Todd often talks about the rabbit pies his mum used to make for them and how delicious they were. Indeed my own mother loves rabbit pie and I can remember her sneaking some into our diet from time to time by telling us it was chicken pie. It would not be until after we'd enjoyed it and were done that she'd tell us the truth. We'd always thought it delicious up to that point . . .

Our back garden is full of lovely little rabbits, and I cannot imagine eating one unless I was absolutely starving. I love to stand at the kitchen window and watch them munching in the grass of a summer evening, and it is only when I notice that they have eaten all my marigolds or pansies that I really get annoyed and even entertain the thoughts of putting them into a pie . . .

I made Todd a rabbit pie for his tea yesterday and he thoroughly enjoyed it. I did have a taste and it wasn't bad, but . . . I couldn't make myself eat much of it. I mostly made it for him and by the satisfied look on his face while he was digging in . . . it was rather good, I'd say!

*Rabbit Pie*
Makes one large enough to serve 4
Printable Recipe

You will need a 2 pint pie dish for this. I use tinfoil ones I brought over from Canada a few years back, but any pie dish will do as long as it holds about 2 pints.

1 rabbit, skinned and gutted (you could shoot your own,
but if you are squeamish like me, get it at a good butchers)
2 leeks or 1 onion
225g (8oz) smoked bacon, or a small ham hock
Zest of ½ lemon
50g (2oz) butter
40g (1½ oz) plain flour
570ml (1 pint) of stock from cooking the rabbit
2 tablespoons cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
275g (10oz) shortcrust pastry
1 beaten egg

Place the rabbit, along with the bacon or ham hock and the leek or onion, in enough water to barely cover, and simmer for an hour or so until very tender. A wild rabbit will take a lot longer to cook than a domesticated one, as they are alot tougher.

Once tender, remove the rabbit from the cooking water, reserving the cooking liquor for later. Strip all the rabbit meat from off of the bones, tearing it into bite sized pieces. Chop up any bacon meat or ham hock and add to the rabbit meat.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour. Mix well and cook for at least a minute before adding the strained cooking liquid, adding it a bit at a time, and stirring it well with each addition. Cook and stir until nicely thickened. Stir in the cream and lemon zest. Season to taste with some salt and pepper.

Add enough of this sauce to the rabbit and bacon mixture to bind it nicely. You may not need it all. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Roll out half of the pastry thinly, and line your pie dish with it so that it overlaps the edges. Place the filling inside and then dampen the edges with a bit of water. Roll out the other half of the pastry to fit over top and place on top to cover the filling. Trim around the edge. Press the edges together and crimp with a fork to seal. Make several slashes in top of the pie, being careful not to cut down all the way through to the bottom. Brush the top with the beaten egg.

Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 170*C/325*F for a further 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp, covering with foil during cooking if it is browning too quickly.

My Todd likes his with some chips and peas, but you can serve whatever you want with it. Some people like mash and gravy with it.


  1. Rabbit pie is delicious! Yours looks very nice, I'm glad you gave it a go. People are often hesitant to try diviations from the standard meat selection these days.

  2. When we went to Malta for the 4th time I had resolved that I would for sure try rabbit in some guise or other. Rabbit is big business in Malta and you find it on menus everywhere. Rabbit shooting is a favouritew pastime and you can hear guns popping away early in the morning all over the island. I orderd some sort of rabbit stew - but I just could not bring myself to eat it when push came to shove!

    Full marks to Todd though. Apparently people generally can't stand the sight of things which they ate of necessity duting the war.

    love, Angie, xx

  3. I don't think I could bring myself to eat a fluffy bunny.....especially not after having one as a pet. I'll just have the potatoes. :)

  4. why no recipe for the pastry is it short or puff
    regards Ivan

  5. I tell you in the recipe Ian, 10 ounces of short crust pastry. You can either buy a good quality all butter ready made pastry, or use Delia's recipe which is what I use.

    It's fool proof and reliable!

  6. evil old person its 2010 not 15 00 bc move on with the times evil old woman

  7. i was brought up in the scottish borders,
    all things wild was our staple diet,
    wild rabbit pie or rabbit stew was a firm favourite,still is!
    a country boy.

  8. As a child eated many Rabbits' {roasted on camp fire }and Headgehog cooked in mud, My best mate in school was a romany and lived in a caravan.

  9. We can't really hunt rabbits in Malta since they are so scarce :) unfortunately the shooting is actually hunting poor birds that fly south for the winter. :(

    This recipe looks really nice, can't wait to try it. :)

  10. I was six years old at the start of WW2 and if it was not for rabbit we would have had very little meat in our diet. My Dad used to catch his own as we lived in a rural part of the town. We had rabbit at least once a week in some form or another.My favourate is cold rabbit pie.Delish. I purchased some rabbit yesterday for a pie,cant wait. I dont know who Anon. is but it is he or she who should come up to date. Rabbit is currently served in most of the best resturants in Britain so dont talk nonsence, and if any ones evil......

  11. I just used this recepie and I have to say wow! My wife and son loved it and I went back for seconds. I will admit I used double cream in the sauce rather than cream but it still worked out wonderfully. A really good and really easy recepie to do. Excellent stuff.

  12. Thanks for letting me know David! So glad you enjoyed!!

  13. Looks delicious, I have several friends who hunt, we can not find rabbit in the meat department where I live in the states. Do you think that pressure cooking the wild rabbit might make it tender? I think I would need to take the leeks/ onions in the broth but not add it to the pressure cooker or they may dissolve. Let me know what you think.Thank You,

    1. I have never used a pressure cooker Ardelle, but I think it would work to make the rabbit very tender from what I have read. Perhaps soften the onions/leeks separately. xo


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