Great book. Author is from the UK, so the book is mainly European-style pies (savory), though there is a chapter dedicated to American pies (sweet).
Meat pies are under-appreciated in the USA. Rabbit (as food) is under-appreciated in the USA. So you can imagine how much rabbit pie is under-appreciated in the USA. When I had the opportunity to pick up a couple fresh rabbits from In the Red Farm at the NC State Farmers’ Market last weekend, along with some beautiful fresh kale, I was inspired by Tamasin Day-Lewis’ fabulous book, Tarts With Tops On, to turn it all into a rabbit pie. I did a mash-up of a couple recipes in her book to come up with this. Of course this entire procedure is in keeping with the purpose of this blog: to take under-appreciated ingredients that people think are difficult, and show you how easy it is to do something spectacular with them.
Start by making a shortbread pie dough. It's as easy as pie (ha!). Seriously, 300g flour, 150g butter. Pulse till it's crumb. Turn the processors on and add 2-3 TBSP ice water slowly till it turns into dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refirgerate at least 30 minutes, longer is better.
Here's the finished dough. The pinch was my oldest daughter sampling the goods.
Joint the rabbit just like you would a chicken - cut the carcass at each joint. After legs are removed, split it down the spine, then quarter it. The liver in the photo made an excellent pate, by the way, or you could just use it in the pie.
I carmelized some red onion I bought from the market at the same time, then added the rabbit to the skillet with salt, pepper, herbs de provence and some dried orange rind. you can use any herb mix you like. Once it was browned, I added a cup of water, covered tightly and slid into a 400F oven for 45 minutes, then removed it, uncovered, and rested till it was cool enough to handle.
Reserve the jus (you'll need some for the pie, and the rest is just delicious stock), then pull the rabbit with a couple forks.
While the rabbit was cooking, I pan sauteed the liver, then put in the processor with a couple rings of red onion I took from the rabbit pot, and drizzle of balsamic, some parsley, sea salt and pepper. A few quick pulses made this fabulous pate. A drizzle of peppery EVOO finished it in spectacular fashion.
We have a vegetarian in the family, so I whipped up a veg pie while the rabbit was cooking. Blanched some baby tuscan kale that I got from Ben's Produce @WWFM, sauteed with red onion, then folded that into a small bowl and topped with hard cooked eggs. The girl likes crust so I gave this tart a bottom as well as a top. I used a shallow cereal bowl as a pie plate in this case.
Into the pie dish goes the rabbit, about a cup of the jus, a couple cups of blanched kale, a few hard-cooked eggs, and parsley.
Top the pie with a crust rolled to about 1/8" thick. Make sure the dough is cold and the surface well dusted with flour and it'll be easy, otherwise it will be a mess. Brush the top with a beaten egg. Bake the pie(s) at 400F for about 20-30 minutes or until nicely browned. remember, you don't need to cook the filling in this step, just the crust.
Here it is. Nutritious, delicious and beautiful, too. A wide range of wines complement it; I selected a cabernet.
Now here’s the thing: you could make this pie from any meat, and traditionally it’s done from a leftover Sunday roast. It would be equally great with chicken. You can also substitute any green veg – turnip, mustard, chard, etc will work just fine.
Cost per serving is admittedly higher than I like it. The rabbit was $19, which I consider to be a bargain for an animal of that quality, properly processed (I got the liver, heart and kidneys along with the visceral fat, which yielded an appetizer for my daughter and I and a meal for my 2 dogs). The butter for the crust was about $2, flour maybe 25 cents. I used a buck’s worth of greens, and about $1.25 worth of eggs. Plus $2 for the onion, plus the Marco Polo ingredients. $24.50, total. We got 12 servings from everything you saw, so just north of $2 per serving. We aren’t large portion people, so if you are, your cost might be $3 a serving. Still pretty good for a meal of this quality. Of course I added a $4 glass of wine to mine 😉
My after diinner espresso was the Sweet Jane espresso from