Gordon has been cooking and experimenting with food since childhood. He loves coming up with new and tasty culinary creations.
Rabbit and squirrel both make for delicious eating in their own rights but combined together with some choice vegetables and homemade stock in a puff pastry topped pie, they truly represent something special. While the meat is technically wild game, the flavours of both squirrel and rabbit are very mild in comparison to many other foods of this type.
I obtain wild game from a variety of sources, depending both upon the time of year (much of it is seasonal) and the general availability of it in the wild in my local area. Some of it I obtain freshly shot, some of it I purchase from butchers' shops or supermarkets and some of it I purchase vacuum packed and/or frozen from online suppliers. The rabbit and squirrel used in this recipe were both purchased online and delivered frozen to my home. A simple internet search should help clarify what options are available in your specific geographical location.
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 2 hours
Ready in: 3 hours
Yields: 4 servings
- 1 medium rabbit*
- 2 medium squirrels*
- 1 cup plain or all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling pastry
- Salt and black pepper
- Vegetable oil
- 3 medium carrots (2 for stock and 1 for pie proper)
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 small sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ pound puff pastry
- 1 beaten egg
*If the wild game is purchased frozen, it will have to be fully defrosted in your fridge before being used in this recipe. This takes around 24 hours.
Step 1: Prepare the Meat
- The cleaned and skinned rabbit and squirrels will need to be chopped to manageable sized pieces for cooking. This means the rabbit should be chopped to about six pieces and each squirrel to four.
- The meat will require to be browned and sealed in two or three batches. Put the flour in a deep plate and season well with salt and pepper. Pour a few tablespoons of oil into a large soup or stockpot and bring it up to a medium to high heat.
Step 2: Dredge and Brown the Meat
- Dredge the pieces of meat one at a time in the flour to ensure even coating before placing in the hot pot.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes before turning with a wooden spoon to brown on all sides.
Step 3: Transfer the Meat
When browned, remove each piece of meat briefly to a holding plate.
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Step 4: Prepare the Stock Vegetables
- Peel the onion and chop into about six pieces.
- Wash, top and tail two of the carrots before roughly chopping.
- If necessary, add a little bit more oil to the cooking pot before bringing it back up to heat and sauteing the carrots and onion pieces for 2-3 minutes.
Step 5: Cook the Meat and Vegetables Together
- Return the rabbit and squirrel pieces to the pot and add the bay leaves and thyme.
- Pour in about 3 pints of cold water or enough to ensure the meat pieces are comfortably covered.
- Put the pot on a high heat until the water approaches boiling point. Adjust the heat to achieve as gentle a simmer as possible, cover the pot and continue to simmer in this way for 1 hour.
Step 6: Cool the Meat, Strain the Stock and Ready the Pastry
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the pieces of meat from the cooking pot to a large, deep dish. Cover and leave to cool enough that they can be comfortably handled. About 30-60 minutes should be enough.
- The slotted spoon should then be used to remove and discard the vegetable pieces and herbs from the stock. Strain the remaining stock through a kitchen paper-lined sieve and reserve.
- The pastry for the pie should be removed from the fridge about 20-30 minutes before it is to be rolled.
Step 7: Debone the Meat and Add to the Pie
Pluck all the meat from the bones in small bite-sized chunks and add to a round pie dish of about ten inches in diameter and an inch to an inch and a half deep. Discard the bones.
Step 8: Add the Vegetables
- Wash, top, tail and moderately finely dice the remaining carrot before adding to the meat, along with the frozen peas.
- Stir the carrot and peas carefully through the meat.
Step 9: Add the Stock
- Spoon in enough cooled stock to approximately half cover the solids but no more or the pastry will become soggy during cooking and fail to rise.
- The remaining stock can be very successfully frozen in a suitable dish for future use in any number of potential ways.
Step 10: Place the Pastry and Cook
- Roll the pastry out on a clean, dry surface to a square just slightly bigger than the pie dish. Lay it on top of the dish and crimp the edges before carefully trimming off the overhang with a sharp knife. Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
- When the oven is heated, glaze the top of the pastry with the beaten egg and cut a couple of steam vents in the centre. Sit the pie on a baking tray (to contain any potential if unlikely spills) and cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Step 11: Serve and Enjoy
Take the pie from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting for service. Boiled, buttered new potatoes and a steamed vegetable such as broccoli make for excellent accompaniments.
© 2018 Gordon N Hamilton