Rabbit and Crayfish Stargazy Pie

Serves 4.


Ingredients:



  • Back and front legs from 4 wild rabbits (reserve the saddles for another dish, such as a salad).

  • 3 tbsp plain flour.

  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil.

  • 2 onions, finely chopped.

  • Good knob of butter.

  • 1 glass of English white wine or cider.

  • 2 litres of hot chicken stock.

  • 500g good quality puff pastry made with butter.

  • Beaten egg.

  • Salt and pepper.

For crayfish:



  • 1tsp fennel seeds.

  • 12 black peppercorns.

  • Few sprigs of thyme.

  • 2 star anise.

  • 1 bay leaf.

  • 24 live freshwater crayfish.

  • 1 litre chicken stock.

Method:



  1. Preheat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas mark 6.

  2. Season the rabbit legs and dust them with 1 tbsp of the flour.

  3. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan until hot, then lightly colour the rabbit legs over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.

  4. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

  5. In a large saucepan, gently cook the onions in the butter for 2-3 minutes without colouring.

  6. Dust with the remaining flour and stir well over a low heat for a minute, then gradually add the wine and the hot stock, stirring to prevent lumps from forming.

  7. Bring to the boil.

  8. Add the rabbit legs and season lightly.

  9. Cover with the lid.

  10. Simmer gently for about 1 hour or until the rabbit is tender.

  11. Remove the rabbit legs and leave to cool.

  12. The sauce should be fairly thick – if it’s not, continue simmering for a while until it has reduced down by half.

  13. To cook the crayfish, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with the fennel seeds, peppercorns, thyme, star anise, bay leaf and 1 tbsp salt.

  14. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

  15. Plunge the crayfish into the liquid, bring the water quickly back to the boil and simmer for 1½ minutes.

  16. Drain and leave to cool.

  17. Pick out 4 similar sized crayfish for the garnish and set aside.

  18. Peel the rest, including the large claws, first removing the head and then squeezing the shell between thumb and forefinger to crack it.

  19. Set the meat aside.

  20. Crush the shells a little put them in a saucepan with the stock and simmer for 30 minutes.

  21. Strain the stock through a sieve into a clean pan.

  22. Boil to reduce to 4-5 tbsp.

  23. Mix into the rabbit sauce.

  24. Once the rabbit legs are cool, remove the meat from the bones.

  25. Mix into the sauce with the crayfish meat.

  26. Spoon into a large pit dish or four individual dishes.

  27. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until about 3mm thick.

  28. Cut out a lid that is about 2cm larger all round than the top of the pie dish. (Or, if you are using individual dishes, cut the pastry into quarters, roll out and cut out four lids.)

  29. Brush the edge of the pastry lid with a little beaten egg, then lay it on top of the dish, egg-washed side against the rim.

  30. Trim the edge and press down to seal.

  31. Cut four small slits in the pastry lid (or a small slit in the centre of each of the individual ones) and insert the whole crayfish, keeping the top half of the body above the pastry lid.

  32. Brush the pastry with more beaten egg.

  33. Bake the pie for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden (small pies will take about 25 minutes) cover the crayfish with foil if they start to colour too much.

  34. Serve with greens or mashed root vegetable such as celeriac or parsnip and/or small boiled potatoes with chopped herbs.

Great British Menu 07 winning recipe. Courtesy of Mark Hix.