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!
Makes one large enough to serve 4
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.