When it's wet and windy outside, comfort food is a must. I don't think there is any better comfort food than a pie, of any description. Although it took me a while to come round to the idea of eating rabbit, it is a really tasty and versatile meat. Super lean, with a flavour similar to chicken - and I'm not just saying that! Supplied by my friends at the wonderful Field & Flower, this rabbit had a life roaming the fields, and tastes all the better for it.
400g smoky bacon lardons
1 whole or portioned rabbit
8 shallots, peeled and quartered
2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely diced
3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 turnip, peeled and finely diced
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 bay leaves
½ tsp wholegrain mustard
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
500ml medium-sweet cider
2 small celeriac, peeled and cubed
6 parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 ½ tsp wholegrain mustard
Drizzle of Olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Fry the lardons in a medium sized casserole on a low-medium heat, until the fat has rendered out. Remove the lardons from the casserole, leaving the fat in. Brown the rabbit pieces on all sides in the bacon fat, remove and set aside. Fry the shallots and celery on a low-medium heat until soft. Add the carrots, turnip, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves, stir and fry for a further 3 minutes. Return the bacon to the casserole along with the wholegrain mustard. Stir to combine. Place the rabbit on top of the vegetables and pour in the cider to just above the rabbit – top up with a little water if necessary. Bring to the boil before cooking in the oven for 1hr 30minutes.
Boil the celeriac and parsnips until soft. Mash and stir in the mustard and olive oil, season to taste.
Remove the casserole from the oven and pick out the rabbit, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Allow the rabbit to cool slightly before picking the meat from the bones. Return the meat to the casserole and stir everything together.
Turn the oven up to 180C.
Fill a pie dish to 2/3rds with the rabbit stew – keep some of the liquid back, as you don’t want it too wet. Top with the mash and create peaks using a fork or spoon. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is lovely and golden.