SMALL GAME RECIPES


RABBIT POT PIE

Here is one I really like. I do admit that rabbit is my favorite forest meat.

Pastry:
1 cup cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and chilled
1 large egg, beaten and reserved


Filling:
2 rabbits (3 pounds each), gutted, skinned, cleaned, and cut into pieces, scraps reserved
1 cup hard cider
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into .-inch lardons
1/2pound oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
12 pitted prunes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour


STEPS

1. To make the pastry: In a pitcher combine water, ice, and vinegar; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut chilled butter into flour mixture until pea-size pieces form. Remove ice from water-vinegar mixture and drizzle the chilled mixture into the flour-butter mixture, one-third at a time, working dough gently with your hands until it comes together in a dry, shaggy ball. Pat two-thirds of the dough into a round for the bottom crust and the remaining third into a round for the top. Wrap both rounds tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

2. To make the filling: Preheat oven to 375F. Arrange rabbit pieces in a large Dutch oven, then splash with cider, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Place in the oven and braise until the rabbit is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove pot from oven and turn off oven. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the bones in chunks and reserve.

3. Return the picked bones and any rabbit scraps to the Dutch oven and add enough water to barely cover the bones. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and allow stock to simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Let stock cool, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl or pitcher, discarding solids. Refrigerate rabbit stock until fat sets, about 2 hours, then skim off fat and reserve stock.

4. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add bacon, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until lardons are firm and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add oyster mushrooms and leeks, a generous amount of pepper, and salt to taste; cook for 5 minutes more. Place lid on skillet, reduce heat to medium, and let the mixture sweat until bacon is somewhat crisp and leeks and mushrooms are soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add reserved rabbit meat, prunes, and thyme.

5. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt remaining butter. Add flour gradually, whisking constantly until a light brown roux develops, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and gradually add 2 cups of reserved rabbit stock, whisking as you go to ensure roux remains smooth. Return pan to medium-low heat and allow sauce to thicken, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Add sauce to reserved rabbit-vegetable mixture and mix well to combine.

6. Preheat oven to 375F. With a rolling pin, roll out the larger dough round on a clean, floured surface to create an 11-inch-diameter circle. Place dough in a 9-inch pan or cast-iron skillet; tuck any overhanging dough back inside to create a clean line along the edge of the pan. Roll out the smaller dough round into a 9-inch-diameter circle. Reserve dough scraps (see box, below).

7. Pour filling into piecrust. Lightly brush the edges of bottom crust with beaten egg, then lay the 9-inch dough circle over the top. Using the tines of a fork, press edges of dough together to create a good seal. Then, with tines of a fork, pierce the top 4 or 5 times and brush evenly with beaten egg. Place pie on middle rack, and bake until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes.


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