Wabbit! My latest assignment for BBC Food & Drink, they have taken me to Devon to meet Chef, Hunter, Forager and all round nice guy Tim Maddams. Tim invites me into his idyllic home with a back garden overlooking a lush valley where he cooks me two recipes using wild rabbits that he shot a few days before. The first dish was rabbit leg and chanterelle pasta and the second dish is easy slow cooked rabbit with pancetta and tomatoes. Both extremely tasty and both showing just how versatile wild rabbit can be. We really should be eating more these wild and tasty animals that have some how become to be known as the 'poor man's chicken'. They can be ordered through supermarkets, butchers and even online. They have such great flavour and quality of meat, nutritious, low in fat and full of protein and vitamins. They are also very good value for money, even from a supermarket a wild rabbit costs less than a free-range chicken.
One more bit of advice, just make sure to not grab yourself an old buck which can be a little too strong in taste. The perfect age for a wild rabbit is between 6-8 weeks old and most importantly stay clear of farmed rabbit imported from abroad.
Here's my 'Wild Rabbit & Pancetta Pie' recipe using ingredients and flavours that I believe Tim would approve of ;)
My Wild Rabbit, Pancetta & Sage Pie
FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 wild rabbit
- 100g pancetta or smoked bacon lardons
- 2 shallots, peeled & finely chopped
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 150ml white wine
- 150ml chicken stock
- 100ml double cream
- 100g small button mushrooms, each cut in half
- 1 carrot , rough small dice
- 1tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1/2 bunch sage, roughly chopped
FOR THE ALL BUTTER RUFF PUFF PASTRY:
- 400g strong plain flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 300g butter, ice cold
- 100-150ml cold water
For the filling, divide the rabbit into small portions on the bone and season with salt and pepper. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil into a large pan, then seal off the rabbit until nicely browned and set aside.
In the same pan, seal off the bacon until caramelised and set aside with the rabbit. Sweat the shallots, carrots and mushrooms in the remaining oil for 5 minutes, then add the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid just covers the vegetables.
Add the chicken stock, rabbit and bacon and return to a boil for about 20 minutes until reduced. Add the double cream and mustard and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened. Add the roughly chopped sage and set aside to cool.
Once cooled, take the rabbit out of the stew, take the meat off the bone (discarding the bones) and return the meat back to the stew. Chill until needed.
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Follow directions for my all butter ruff puff pastry
Divide the pastry into four and shape over a ramekin or jam jar and then place in a small bowl to retain the shape. Place spoonfuls of the filling into the bowl-shaped pastry and fill halfway. Squeeze the top together and gently push down, being careful not to break the pastry. Cut any excess pastry on the top and brush with egg yolk. Bake for 45 mins, making sure the pinch on the top is fully cooked through.