Rabbit Pumpkin and Barley Pie
If you remember your Beatrix Potter, you know Peter was warned not to go into Mr McGregor’s garden as he might end up in a rabbit pie.
Rabbit is a lean and healthy meat that is easy to get to love when eaten in a pie. Rabbit goes very well with the sweetness of dried fruit, such as raisins or prunes, particularly if you are using a gamier wild rabbit. In my rabbit pie, in addition to raisins, I have added another sweet element, pumpkin. The pumpkin along with the pearl barley also helps to thicken the filling without the need for flour. Making a stock from the carcass not only adds rabbit flavour but ensures nothing is wasted after deboning but, if you don’t have the time, some chicken stock will do nicely. I would recommend making the filling the day before or in the morning so that it is cold and doesn’t make the pastry soggy when you assemble the pie.
Farmed rabbit is much bigger and meatier than wild rabbit and not gamey in flavour, so it may appeal more if you prefer a mild flavoured meat. Farmed rabbits are available from select butchers, our city markets and from the happily-named local producer, Kilmore Rabbits, who attends some Melbourne farmer’s markets (check stall listings for each market at Melbourne Farmers Markets).
- rabbit carcass and bones
- 1 carrot
- 1 stick celery
- 1 small brown onion
- bay leaf
- 6 peppercorns
- half a farmed rabbit or a whole wild rabbit, deboned
- olive oil
- 2 small onions, cut into 1 cm dice
- sprig rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins or currants
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 pearl barley
- 1/2 Kent (Jap) pumpkin
Cut the rabbit meat into bit sized chunks. Cut the vegetable into rough chunks. Put the bones with the aromatic stock ingredients in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onions with a pinch of salt until soft, then add the dried fruit and sauté for a couple of minutes (the fruit will plump up in the heat). Add the rabbit meat and cook, stirring to lightly brown evenly. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for about a minute.
Sieve the stock to remove the vegetables and bones. Pour the stock into the pan with the rabbit and add the pearly barley. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Season with pepper and more salt if needed.
Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Cut the pumpkin into 2 cm dice, toss in a little olive oil and roast for 30 minutes.
When the pumpkin is cooked through let it cool and then add it to the cooked rabbit. Leave it all to cool completely and store in the fridge preferably overnight to firm up before baking for 30 minutes in a shortcrust or flaky pastry of your choice. Make Mrs McGregor proud!