In celebration of Easter I became a bunny boiler. Quite literally. I decided to test out the new cookbook, Canteen: Great British Food, by cooking the recipe for rabbit, bacon and cider pie. The cookbook includes what are billed as Canteen’s “signature dishes” and promises 120 British recipes. The book itself is fairly plain and no nonsense looking with a simple brown cover and stark, simple photographs inside. There is a whole chapter devoted to pies and another to stews. There is also quite a handy section at the back which gives you the details as to how to make basics like stock, mayonnaise and custard from scratch. If you want a closer look at the book you can flick through it here.
Sage, Thyme and Bay leaves for the pie
I tested out two recipes from the book and the first, pork belly with apples was a bit of a failure. The pork belly itself was tasty enough but following the books instructions did not result in crispy, golden crackling. I prefer my usual method of drying and salting the crackling rather than the method prescribed by the cookbook which is just to crank up the oven at the end and place the crackling under the grill. I fared much better with the rabbit, bacon and cider pie. Although baking the pie did require me to come face to face with a little bunny. Although skinned and gutted he still had his little head and paws and this recipe should probably be avoided by the squeamish or those with a particular attachment to Easter bunnies. If you like Canteen’s back to basics style food then this is a good cookbook for you but be careful about the recipes that you choose as I have had mixed results. Best wishes for a lovely Easter break.
The rabbit, vegetables and herbs ready to go in the oven
1 rabbit (the cookbook specifies wild but I could only get my hands on farmed)
1 onion, diced
100g celeraic, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 sprig of fresh sage
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
200ml meat stock
Salt and pepper to season
100g dry cure streaky bacon, cut into strips
150g leaks, diced
15g plain white flour
20g fresh parsley
700g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
The finished pie
1. Preheat the oven to 150C. Season the rabbit inside and out, then place in a casserole dish.
2. Add the onion, celeraic, carrot, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, stock, cider and season. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
3. Lift out the rabbit and set aside. Pour the liquid and vegetables into a sieve set over a bowl to strain the liquid. Discard the herb stalks. Reserve the liquid and vegetables separately.
4. Pick the meat off the rabbit, discarding the skin and bones.
5. Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the bacon for 4-5 minutes until browned then add the leaks and sweat for 5 minutes until soft, finally add the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
6. Add the reserved cooking liquid, mixing in well then add the reserved vegetables and rabbit meat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Add the parsley, stir and remove from the heat. Allow to cool completely.
8. Butter the inside of a 28-30cm pie dish that is at least 8cm deep.
9. Roll out the pastry on a well floured board (flour your rolling pin as well to make it easier) to at thickness of 3 mm. Cut out a piece of pastry which is large enough to line the base of the dish and the sides with room for some overhang. Place in the dish leaving the edges hanging over the sides. Brush the overhand with a little of the beaten egg.
10. Fill with the cold pie filling and cut a piece of pastry for the lid. Lay this over the filling and pinch the edges of the lid to the edges of the pastry lining of the dish to seal them together. Trim off the extra pastry with a knife.
11. Cut three or four 1cm slits in the lid to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush the lid with the egg glaze and bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges. Serve.
For Easter cooking that doesn’t involve bunnies try this recipe for best-ever hot cross buns or you can read my review of Canteen.
Gourmet Chick received a complimentary copy of the book to review.