Rabbit, snail and hedgerow garlic pie


You may think this an odd combination – but I came across this dish in Spain years ago.

40g flour, plus more for dusting
12 rabbit legs (front and back)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
2 medium onions, peeled, halved and finely chopped
50g butter
100ml white wine
1 litre hot chicken stock
16 or more plump snails out of their shells
a handful of hedgerow garlic, chopped (or garlic chives from Chinese food stores)

For the pastry:
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
85g shredded beef suet
60g butter, chilled and coarsely grated
1 medium egg, beaten, to glaze

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Halve the back legs of the rabbit at the joint, then lightly season and flour all of the rabbit legs with a tablespoon of the flour. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and lightly fry them for two minutes on each side without colouring them too much.

In a heavy-based saucepan, cook the onions in the butter for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the rest of the flour; stir well. Gradually add the white wine, stirring to avoid any lumps; gradually add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, add the rabbit legs and lightly season. Simmer gently, covered with a lid, for about 1¼ hours or until the rabbit is tender. When the rabbit is cooked, add the snails and hedgerow garlic and re-season if necessary. The sauce should be quite thick; if not, remove the rabbit legs and simmer until it has thickened. Leave it to cool then transfer to a pie dish.

Meanwhile make the pastry: mix the flour and salt with the suet and grated butter. Mix in about 150-175ml water to form a smooth dough and knead it for a minute. Roll the pastry on a floured table to a thickness of about 0.75m, then cut out the right size and shape for the pastry to cover the dish, plus an extra 2cm. If you have a pie funnel then place it in the centre of the pie.

Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg, make a slit in the centre for the pie funnel and lay the pastry on top of your pie, pressing the egg-washed sides against the rim of the dish; brush with beaten egg. Leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes; bake for about 45 minutes until the pastry is golden.


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