Rabbit and cider pie

This rich and gamey pie is part of Valentine Warner's mums repertoire, so its guaranteed to become a comforting favourite
By Valentine Warner
Rabbit and cider pie
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: plus 1-2 hours chilling
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1 wild rabbit, portioned into 8 pieces
  • plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 tbsp
  • large knob butter
  • 30 ml cider vinegar
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig thyme, leaves only
  • 200 g pancetta, cut into cubes
  • 750 ml medium-dry cider
  • 1 handful curly parsley
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled, quartered

For the pastry

  • 225 g strong plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • large pinch fine sea salt
  • 185 g butter, cut into cubes
  • 125 ml cold water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

To serve

  • buttered peas

Tips and Suggestions

Rabbit is a white meat thats lower in cholesterol than chicken or turkey, has just 795 calories per pound and has the highest percentage of protein and the lowest percentage of fat of any meat.

Wild rabbit is leaner than tame rabbit, and as long as its properly dressed, is only slightly gamey. The gaminess may be minimized by soaking the meat in salted water overnight in the refrigerator.

Method

1. For the filling: dust the rabbit pieces in the seasoned flour. Heat the butter in a large frying pan until foaming, add the rabbit pieces and fry for 2-3 minutes on all sides, or until golden-brown all over.

2. Remove the rabbit from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and deglaze with the cider vinegar, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, nutmeg, bay leaves, thyme leaves and pancetta and fry until the pancetta is golden-brown. Add the tablespoon of plain flour, stirring well to prevent any lumps from forming. Cook for about one minute, then stir in the cider.

4. Return the rabbit to the pan, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the rabbit is very tender but not yet falling off the bone. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before stirring in the chopped parsley and boiled eggs. Pour the mixture into a large pie dish.

5. For the pastry: sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the cubes of butter and toss with a large metal spoon until the butter is lightly coated in the flour. Mix the water and lemon juice together and pour into the bowl. Use a butter knife to cut across the mixture several times, chopping the butter into the flour until the mixture comes together to form a loose dough.

6. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and shape into a fat slab. Roll out to a sheet about 40x20cm. Fold one third of the pastry into the centre, then fold the other end on top. Press the edges firmly with a rolling pin, then rotate the pastry by a quarter turn. Roll out into the same sized rectangle and repeat the folding process. Continue the process five more time, reflouring the work surface to prevent sticking as necessary.

7. Wrap the slab in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

8. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

9. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out until it is about 2cm larger than the pie dish. Brush the edge using the beaten egg and place the pastry over the filling. Trim off any excess pastry and knock up the edges with a sharp knife. Decorate the top with any excess pastry, then brush lightly with the beaten egg.

10. Bake the pie for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown and the filling is piping hot. Serve with buttered peas.

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