A couple of weeks ago Gregory’s parents came to visit. Being of British descent, one of my father-in-laws favorite comfort foods is rabbit pie with suet crust, my mother in-law is not fond of rabbit, so we also made a chicken pie using the same basic recipe. Please note that this is NOT a low -fat meal, it is very very filling, lots of work, but could become a favorite. Since rabbit and chicken are both lean meats, and the pastry is only on the top this recipe can easily be modified to a low fat option by switching the crust and leaving out the bacon/pancetta and the cream.
1 whole rabbit, jointed (your butcher will do this for you)
2-3 cups of chicken stock
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, cut in large pieces
3 cloves garlic, cut in half
fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and or thyme)
2 leeks, sliced thinly
2 1/3 inch pieces of pancetta finely chopped
Stock (reserved from above ingredients)
Cornstarch slurry (two spoons cornstarch to about an equal amount of coldwater. If you prefer a thicker sauce, add more cornstarch and adjust water accordingly). You must bring your fluid to a boil to get the thickening so that you know the consistency BEFORE you put it in your pie. You can also reserve some more stock and do the same to get gravy.
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the rabbit meat in a bit of olive oil.
Add chicken stock, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, and sprigs of herbs. If the rabbit is not fully covered, add some water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours, until meat comes off the bones easily.
(This is the chicken, same recipe, just with chicken instead of rabbit)
Remove rabbit to a platter and let cool. Strain the stock and reserve to make the sauce. This can be done the night before (which is what I did with the rabbit, but not the chicken).
Once rabbit meat has cooled, remove the bones. When you are ready to assemble your pie, reduce the stock to thicken, add cornstarch slurry and a bit of cream.
Brown the bacon or pancetta bits until crispy, add the leeks and saute for about 3 minutes. Put the cooked rabbit meat into the creamy sauce and add the bacon and leeks.
To help achieve a glossy, golden finish, brush pastry with milk before putting into the oven, this is the chicken pie (shallow pie dish, the rabbit was in a deeper dish and is in the photo of the finished product)
Fill in a deep pie dish or casserole. Cover with the suet pastry and bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes.
Enjoy with a green salad.