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Rabbit Pie 18 Mar 08
Is it time to bring this old favourite back onto our tables?

In Norman Britain rabbit was such popular meat that they were bred by nobility and Henry the VIII even had to introduce a closed hunting season so that they wouldn’t be hunted out of existence in the wild. Since then rabbit has waxed and waned in popularity. Although still very popular in their Easter chocolate versions, the real meaty thing is much less commonly found on our dinner plates than it was before the Second World War. But is it time for a renaissance? Anna McNamee met some of the members of the Eastbourne WRVS, but first she joined the food writer Hattie Ellis in her kitchen to make a pie.
Rabbit Pie - Recipe
1 large or 2 small rabbits, jointed with their livers and kidneys apple juice
2 large onions
small handful of sage
12 prunes, halved if they are very large ones
3 rashers of good bacon
3 hard boiled eggs
large bunch of parsley
290 ml chicken stock (if you want to serve this pie cold try to make sure you get a good stock with jelly in it) salt and pepper
shortcrust pastry - beaten egg to glaze.

You need to start this the morning or night before you want to serve the pie. Place the rabbit (not the offal), the roughly chopped onion and the sage into a large pot. Pour in enough apple juice to just cover the contents and then bring to a boil. Simmer very gently for half an hour. Remove from the heat and let cool. When the meat is cool enough to handle, strip it off the bone, and put it to the side. Discard the onion, the sage and the remaining juice. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F/Gas Mark 6. Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces and fry it in a pan. When the bacon is browned, a little crispy and the pan is still hot, add the kidney and the liver, chopped too into bite-sized pieces. Season and when the offal is nicely browned and take off the heat. In a large pie dish, evenly distribute the pieces of rabbit, the bacon and offal, quarters of the hard-boiled egg, the prunes and a generous amount of chopped parsley. Season well and then pour the cold chicken stock over the top to fill up any gaps in the pie. Don’t flood it. Cover the top of the pie with the shortcrust pastry. Cut some steam vents into the top and glaze with the beaten egg. Cook it in the oven for an hour in total but remember to turn the temperature down to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/ Gas Mark 4 after 20 minutes.
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