A couple of months ago, I read that goose and rabbit go well together in a pie – goose being fatty and rabbit being lean. I had some leftover goose in the freezer, so I’ve been awaiting the return of rabbits at the farmers’ market. This week I was in luck! I came across this combination in Food in England by Dorothy Hartley, (“a comprehensive survey of an Englishman’s food throughout the ages”) where it’s under, Harvest or Michaelmas Goose – quite specific to this time of year, Michaelmas being on 29th September.
In the book it says:
The Michaelmas goose was fattened up on the stubble and gleanings left by the reapers. Young rabbits were fat from stolen corn at the same time, and, synchronising, there were also the first windfalls of apples for the apple sauce and the new corn for the “fermety puddings” and the “scallion onions” that must be eaten quickly. It is not by accident, but design, that arranges such things as goose and rabbit pudding, sage-and-onion stuffings, apple sauce and dumplings.
I haven’t followed the Medieval “Goos in a Hogepotte” recipe (included in the scroll, The Forme of Cury from 1390), but it did give me inspiration.
First of all, I poached the rabbit with stock vegetables, as it makes removing all the tiny bones easier and the resulting liquid is good for the pie filling.
Rabbit Stock recipe:
1 wild rabbit
2 sticks of celery
6 pieces of garlic
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs sage
2 bay leaves
6 bruised juniper berries
8 black peppercorns
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 pints water (to almost cover)
Put all the ingredients into a cast iron casserole, bring to a simmer and skim off any scum from the liquid. Put the lid on and remove to a preheated oven at 150º C for an hour. Once cooked, allow the rabbit to cool, before removing the meat from the bones (the liver and kidneys are perfect for the pie too – don’t throw them away). Discard the vegetables and bones, but keep the stock.
Goose and Rabbit Pie recipe (serves 4-6 people):
1 wild rabbit (poached and chopped up, bones removed)
1 lb goose (chopped)
4 slices streaky bacon (chopped)
1 1/2 pints of home made rabbit stock (you could substitute chicken stock)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
6 mushrooms (chopped)
4 large tomatoes (grated)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 heaped dessertspoon of plain flour
1 teaspoons of herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme – ground in a mortar and pestle with coarse sea salt and black peppercorns)
2 bay leaves
2 pinches of crushed chilli
a glass of red wine
a splash of red wine vinegar
a splash of Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup
2 dessertspoons of tomato purée
a large squeeze of anchovy paste
1 heaped teaspoon of hot smoked Pimentón de la Vera
olive oil for frying
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 lb home made pastry
1 beaten egg
Fry the onion in extra virgin olive oil until it goes translucent. Stir in the bacon and two large pinches of dry crushed chilli. Follow that with the carrot, celery and garlic, after the bacon has taken some colour.
Add the mushrooms and after a minute or two, grate in the fresh tomatoes (chop in half, grate the wet side, discarding the skin) – this Spanish technique is much quicker and easier than blanching!
Sprinkle on the ground herbs, plus a heaped dessertspoonful of plain flour and stir in, like making a roux.
Pour in half the stock and red wine, mixing in all the cooked meat. Add more stock as necessary – the consistence should look like the above picture. The hot smoked pimentón goes in now, squirt in the purée and anchovy paste along with the Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup and 2 bay leaves. Bring the casserole to a simmer and remove to a preheated oven at 150ºC for two hours.
Make the pastry while the pie filling is cooking in the oven. Pastry is very easy to make if you have a food processor – it takes less than 2 minutes! I encourage all of you to try this, it tastes much better than shop bought, which I notice contains; palm oil, fatty acids, colouring, preservatives and other chemicals. Shop bought pastry contains no butter or egg (great for dieting and vegans)! So, having made your own pastry, allow it to chill in the refrigerator for half an hour or so.
Stir and taste the casserole every 30 minutes or so and adjust the seasoning to taste. When the meat is tender and it tastes perfect, allow to cool.
Spread the pie filling into a large dish when cold. Buttering the dish helps to prevent sticking – save the paper wrapping from butter for this purpose.
Roll out the pastry to the correct size – slightly larger than the pie dish. Use the rolling pin to ease the pastry over the top and fold it in before crimping round the edges with your fingers. Make some holes in the dough to allow steam to get out and wash with beaten egg and a splash of cold water to make it brown nicely. Bake in a preheated oven at 200ºC for about 35-40 minutes, or until it looks golden brown.
Allow the pie to rest for 10 minutes before serving with mashed potatoes or celeriac and seasonal vegetables. Once again, a robust red wine is perfect for a game pie, such as Baron de las Viñas Rioja Reserva.