Rabbit pie

I was gifted 2 rabbits on Saturday, caught locally, gutted and skinned before being presented. I got stuck into finishing off the cleaning whilst trying to figure out how to prepare them.

The wild rabbit

Rabbit, for my carnivorous readers, is a very healthy and environmentally friendly good meat to eat. It’s extremely lean and in abundance in our country as an introduced and pest species. A female rabbit (doe) can produce 4-5 litters during a six-month breeding season – with six and more kittens per litter, which reach breeding maturity 10-12 weeks after birth.* Various attempts over the years to eradicate them haven’t worked any more than roundup ready crops and poisoning things works long term. Myxomatosis was introduced in 1950 and almost eradicated the bunny which was introduced near Geelong in 1859 for sport (shooting them). Wiping out 99.8% of most species would pretty much guarantee extinction but to the bunny that would have been nothing more than a challenge. Not to mention that, like any good pesticide, there are always a few who are immune or survive. And survive they did.

With your mother and your brothers and your sisters and your aunts and your uncles and your cousins and your grand kids and your…

In 1995 they introduced the Calicivirus (the name was given as rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus sounds pretty awful) which has also had a huge effect in reducing bunny numbers but again, resistance and survival has kept the bunny alive and thriving in Australia.** An the wily fox, natural predator of the bunny isn’t interested in the fleet-footed Peter Rabbit and family when he can chase down Australia native animals. 😦 Gourmet taste buds. Both Myxo and Calicivirus continue to affect rabbits but less and less so.

If the advertising will score me a free Akubra I’d be most grateful.

Still, the introduction of rabbits to Australia hasn’t been all bad (just mostly). The felt industry suffered in the 1950’s with the introduction of the myxo virus as they relied upon the fur to make the Akubra hat, an Aussie icon, and during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, rabbit would have been a viable source of meat for many rural Australians when other meats aside maybe offal would not have been affordable.

Motor lorry loaded with 1,760 pairs of rabbits, c1918

Rabbit-oh!

So, with ode to my rural ancestry (McKenzie’s ran farms around Hillston, not far from Griffith in NSW and only left the land when my mum was 6) I have had 2 rabbits simmering away on Ignisa our wood stove for the last 24 hours with a dash of apple cider vinegar added. This helps to draw the goodness from the bones and makes a more nourishing bone broth. 🙂 Simmering the meat will also soften it as rabbit can be a little on the chewy side which is no surprise given their nature.

I plan to make a rabbit pie with the now tender meat but as we are a gluten-free family I am hoping that this recipe will provide the pastry for us. 🙂 With a few seasonings (sage maybe) and some of the stock thickened up into a gravy I am hoping to be onto a winner for the kids (oh please let them eat it). They are currently hopping around the house pretending to be bunnies. 😉

A frugal meal that can, with the exception of the coconut oil, be grown entirely locally. 🙂 One day. 😉

 

Well, I’m off to bake a pie. 😀

 

*http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/rabbits-from-pest-to-plate.htm

** http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Safeguarding-Australia/Myxomatosis-History.aspx

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11 thoughts on “Rabbit pie

  1. Lynda says:

    Well, what i think is that you are very resourceful and adaptable to any food source. Bunny was often on our family table when i was young. Stewed and usually served as a fricasee (spelling?) with creamy sauce. It was delicious. Its not a common meat these days and i am sure that my two would gasp in horror if i were to present a bunny brew to them. There is an elderly Italian man that pops into our factory regularly in Footscray that offloads half a dozen or so to staff. Its his little side business to supplement his pension. I hope the kids love love love it for your sake.

    • They did! It was amazing and I am hoping to post the recipe soon. 😀

    • Oh, and rabbit is ironically served in fancy restaurants as a gourmet meal these days. The restaurants apparently can’t get enough but they use farmed rabbits which are more tender and larger too. Stephanie Alexander used to serve them apparently. Ironic that there are millions of the furry creatures all but literally stealing from the mouths of the native grass eaters and the sheep.

  2. narf77 says:

    I remember rabbit served up to us as often as chook was as kids. We lived on 100 acres out in the bush bordering on an estuary and we were true barefoot feral kids. Dad shot rabbits and caught fish in a net as the tide ebbed and flowed and mum used to make her specialty “Kentucky fried rabbit” ;). Can’t say I really liked the taste but I never liked any game meat…too strong for me but if you are handed a tasty pest, might as well make the most out of it methinks! Glad the hoppers loved it and am off to poach that pastry recipe for my gluten free sister. We saw a poor Calicivirus rabbit on our walk on Sunday. It was sitting in the middle of the road with its eyes gummed shut…surely they could find a quicker way to do them in? We had a pet rabbit in W.A. that caught calicivirus (no-one told us you are supposed to get them vaccinated!) but gizmo lived for 5 years with it before succumbing to it’s advances.

    • Calicivirus and Myxo aren’t nice. I don’t like the idea o diseases being introduced to kill animals at all but I guess the myxo did help reduce the numbers. To eradicate them they would have done very well introducing both diseases at the same time. At leaast Myxo is safe for humans. They had some disease outbreak in humans around the time of the myxo release and people blamed the myxo (as you would) until some scientists actually ingested the myxo virus live to show people it was harmless. Brave/foolhardy but did the trick.
      The rabbit pie last night wasn’t gamey at all to my surprise and the pastry was just the perfect addition as it added tiny slices of sweet nuttiness to the tender, mostly white meat. 🙂 Next time I’d add a LOT more gravy and seasonings (I only have 1 titchy tiny sage plant) and more veggies too. The spuds worked but I’d double them. Choko and sweet potato would be nice too and I need more carrots for sure. It would work well with the pastry base and a sweet potato and potato shepherds pie top too. 🙂 The 2 bunnies did 1 large pie (probaby double what a normal family pie size would be and twice the height) and gave me a litre of leftovers too so there are about 6 or even more family meals there already. 🙂 Not to mention the 1350ml of rabbit stock I have in the freezer too. I’m working on another post witht he recipe – maybe for Steve?

      • narf77 says:

        Steve is VERY fussy but I am interested in that pie crust…the shephards pie with minced bunny would take all of that long cooking out of the picture and would make for a much faster meal as anything minced is more tender. Mum’s KFR wasn’t bad either…you soak the rabbit in brine to tenderise it and then roll it in egg and a mix of mum’s “11 special herbs (and spices)” and voila…delicious KFR! It was the only way that I would eat rabbit. Maybe I had vegan tendencies way back? (nope, I scoffed any other meat to extremes so I think it was just a cop out 😉 )

  3. foodnstuff says:

    Lucky I don’t live close or you’d find me on your doorstep for a serving of rabbit pie!

    I have wild rabbits here but there’ll be no pies in the near or distant future unless I can manage to run faster than they can 😦

    • We’re eating the leftovers today or I’d come visit and bring it with me. 🙂 I do have plenty of leftover pie filling which will go in the freezer today. Shall I invite you up when I cook it? We’re not far from the train line. 🙂
      I’ve had an offer to come and learn to shoot a bow and arrow at the place from which the rabbits came and to try my hand at shooting rabbits. I’m not sure how I’d go as I am yet to actually kill anything but I am more than happy to take over at gut and skin stage. And most definitely at the eating stage too. 😉

  4. Gavin Webber says:

    Hey Jessie, nice meat when you can get it. I grew up on rabbits. We (my brother Jim and I) were encouraged to catch them as kids by just about everyone. We learnt how to skin and clean them, so that mum could cook something she called welsh rabbit.

    The welsh rarebit that I now know is a cheese dish on toast, but this was rabbit cooked slowly in cream and some herbs and lots of root vegetables. It was always delicious, and served with mashed potatoes, so I must ask her for the recipe.

    Gav x

    • If you and Ben fancy trying out those bow and arrow skills at catching dinner, let me know. I’ll hook you up with the people that own the place my rabbits came from. 🙂
      I’d love that recipe too if your Mum finds it. It sounds amazing. 🙂

  5. Linne says:

    We had rabbit when I was a kid, too. From when I was 12 – 19, we lived next to a Dutch family that ran a small butcher shop at the back of their property. Mum bought the rabbit from them. It would have taken too long for Dad to hunt enough rabbit for a meal (9 kids and 2 adults, all very skinny, but active and big eaters). When we had chicken, we kids would squabble over who got the drumsticks (usually Dad got one and we squabbled over the other). When Mum started cooking rabbit, she said one of the advantages was 4 drumsticks on each; as it took 3 or 4 rabbits for a meal, everybody had at least one. To us they tasted like chicken; maybe ’cause Mum cooked them much like Narfie7’s Mum did. I haven’t had rabbit since, but if I lived down the road a bit, I’d be ‘dropping by’ on rabbit dinner day and not taking any hints that you were about to eat and I should shove off home . . . 😉

    I’d like Gavin’s recipe, too, if he comes up with it; one never knows what the future will hold and, like all good Girl Guides, I do like to ‘be prepared’.

    That rabbit photo (the one with the mob, not the first one) is scary, isn’t it? I remember reading stories about the rabbit problem in Australia. I’m surprised we don’t have more problems like that; people seem to have no thought for consequences for any of their actions. In Victoria, BC, there is a plague of starlings because some English immigrant way back when brought over a pair as songbirds and they escaped. At least, that’s the story.

    Gotta run. That post left me with a lovely taste in my mouth; thanks ever so much. ~ Linne

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