Rabbit pie

Serves 8
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The Independent Online

For the filling

1 farmed rabbit
1 litre/13/4 pints fresh chicken stock
40g/11/2 oz butter
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 slices of pancetta, or smoked bacon, cut in half-inch strips
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten

Ask your butcher to cut the rabbit into pieces – you want the hind legs, fore quarter and saddle.

Place the chicken stock in a heavy- based pan large enough to hold the rabbit comfortably. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the rabbit pieces and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Now remove from the stove and set aside to cool.

While the rabbit is cooling, place half the butter into a pan and, once foaming, add the onion, sweat gently for 10 minutes then add the pancetta, garlic and thyme and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Strain the rabbit from the stock and set aside the liquid. Pick off the meat from the rabbit and add to the mixing bowl. In a smaller saucepan, add the rest of the butter and place over a low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir well to combine.

Ladle in the stock and cook, stirring often until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the cream and cook gently for five more minutes. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. Remove from the stove and spoon over the rabbit. Add the parsley and stir to combine.

Once the pastry has rested, remove from the fridge, divide in half and on a well-floured surface roll one half out in a circular shape to an eighth of an inch thick. Line the tart case with the pastry, pressing firmly into the base and sides. Prick the base with a fork and return to the fridge for a further half-hour.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Once the oven is hot, remove the tart shell from the fridge, line with parchment paper and weigh down with baking beans – if you don't have these, uncooked rice, beans or chickpeas will do. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then remove both the beans and the parchment paper and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.

While the pastry is cooking, roll out the second piece of pastry to the same thickness and set aside until you have taken the base from the oven and allowed to cool slightly. Brush the sides of the cooked shell with the beaten egg and fill generously with the rabbit mixture. Place the pastry lid on top; using a small sharp knife, make a cross in the centre, brush all over with the beaten egg and return to the oven for 25 minutes or until golden-brown and bubbling. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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