Heritage Rabbit Pie with a Suet Crust
This recipe for Rabbit Pie is based on an old English stew dating from about the 15th century called Egurdouce. I’ve messed around with it by adding bacon and garlic and by topping with pastry. If you are really not into eating bunny, I suspect it might work with chicken;)
- 2 whole rabbits jointed into 6
- 2 large onions
- 4 oz streaky bacon pieces cut into small chunks
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 500 cl red wine
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 good sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 3 oz raisins
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Soak the rabbit in salted cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice for at least an hour and up to 24 hours before cooking, then pat dry with kitchen roll.
- Brown the bacon pieces in a large flameproof casserole so that the fat runs. Remove from the pan
- Add the rabbit pieces gradually and brown. As they are browned, remove from the pan
- Finely chop the onions finely and fry in the casserole till soft.
- Now add all the herbs and spices (tie the cinnamon, bay and rosemary into a neat bundle so that you can remove later).
- Put everything back in the casserole and add the red wine and the raisins.
- Bring to a gentle simmer on the top of the stove then transfer to the oven at 140c for at least 2 hours till the meat is falling off the bone!
- Remove the rabbit pieces from the casserole and then strain the cooking liquid into a smaller pan reserving the onion/bacon and raisin mix.
- Take the rabbit off the bone in largish pieces. Put the rabbit together with the onion, raisin and bacon mix in a large bowl
- Reduce the cooking liquid down a little if it looks very runny
- Make a beurre manie with the flour and butter and whisk into the cooking liquid till you have a reasonably thick gravy.
- Pour the gravy over the meat mixture and mix through
- Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.
- This mixture can be heated up and used by itself or as the base for a pie.
You can eat the rabbit mixture as a casserole or topped with mashed potato. But, rabbit pie is a great old English dish that I believe went out of fashion after wartime austerity had meant it was the main source of meat for some people!
What I do, as a singleton is make up a big batch and then freeze the meat mixture in batches, saving enough for one or two meals. When I am feeling lazy, I am shameless in my purchase and consumption of some rather nice pies made by a chap who goes by the name of Charlie B* (you can find them in Waitrose), because the dishes they come in are perfect for recycling to make one person portions! I don’t freeze the pies, just the meat mixture…that way I get ‘crispy’ pastry (at least as crispy as my rather poor baking skills allow!)
- 6 oz self raising flour
- 3 oz suet
- A pinch of salt
- Cold water
- Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, add the suet and mix through lightly.
- Add cold water and mix to make a dough
- Roll out on a floured board.
To make pies.
- Make a paper ‘pattern’ for your pie lid(s) by tracing round whatever dish you intend using.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured board.
- Line your pie dish with pastry or not depending on taste. I’m usually trying to lose weight so I don’t line the pie dish with pastry to cut the calories a bit
- Put your pie mix into the dish(es) and then glaze the edges of the dish(es) with a little egg to help the lid stick
- Cut a pastry lid using your pattern and put on top of the dish(es).
- Glaze the pastry with a beaten egg or milk and make a steam vent in the centre.
- Crimp the edges
- Bake in an oven at 160-170c for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is hot through.
If you’d like to try this heritage recipe at home why not pin this post for later