“If ye’ve brought meat, we’ll have it. If not, it’s brose and hough.”
He made a face at this; the thought of boiled barley and shin-beef, the last remnants of the salted beef carcass they’d bought two months before, was unappealing.
“Just as well I had luck, then,” he said. He upended his game bag and let the three rabbits fall onto the table in a limp tumble of gray fur and crumpled ears. “And blackthorn berries,” he added, tipping out the contents of the dun bonnet, now stained inside with the rich red juice.
Jenny’s eyes brightened at the sight. “Hare pie,” she declared. “There’s no currants, but the berries will do even better, and there’s enough butter, thank God.” Catching a tiny blink of movement among the gray fur, she slapped her hand down on the table, neatly obliterating the minuscule intruder.
“Take them out and skin ’em, Jamie, or the kitchen will be hopping wi’ fleas.”
Diana Gabaldon, Voyager (Chapter 5)
Don’t you just love Jamie and Jenny together? Especially when it’s just the 2 of them.
Classic, ball-grabbing, times.
But not today — today, they’re all about the hare pie — which means so am I.
The first thing I did was went out and got me a rabbit. Some of you may be able to hunt your own, but I had to go to a specialty butcher for this fella here — and there was never a hope I was going to find a hare. Congratulations if you can! I’m a little jealous.
I went to one of my favourite hunters/foragers for help butchering Bugs up into 10 pieces, or collops, as Jenny later directs Jamie to do.
Then, still following Jenny’s directions, I took the massive wooden mallet that I found on the tool bench downstairs to
whack the crap out of flatten the bones. A normal meat tenderizer will also do the job, but I’m nothing if not committed to authenticity where practical.
For some of you, pounding bones with all your might not be practical. Particularly if you live on the top floor. Personally, my husband is used to loud banging noises coming from the kitchen — he barely even looks up anymore. But if your housemates aren’t as well prepared, you can skip the pounding step. Just note that the rabbit pieces won’t sit as well in the pan while you’re browning them and you won’t have the benefit of working out the day’s aggressions.
It’s up to you, but I recommend the mallet.
The blackthorn berries that Jamie dumped out of his dunbonnet are commonly known as sloe berries today. I’ve never seen them outside of the UK, and only then in gin. 🙂
Blackberries or blueberries match well with rabbit and are a great alternative in Jenny’s recipe. The blackberries in my pie spent the winter in the freezer, just waiting for their perfect place. If you don’t have any berries, use a bit of jam instead. Just dollop small spoonfuls in amongst the meat and veggies.
Aside from the currants she replaces with berries, the other ingredient Jenny is missing for the recipe, as written in Mrs. McLintock’s Recipes for Cookery and Pastry-Work, is claret. Originally, a claret was a pale, light-tasting wine — close to what we now call a rosé. But over time, the term claret has changed to refer to a dry, dark red Bordeaux.
Jenny didn’t want to break open the last cask of claret and we don’t actually know what she decided to use in the end (other things came up). My Outlander Kitchen has a few more resources than Jenny’s post-uprising one, so I went all out and picked up a bottle of French rosé for my pie. It made for a wonderful “gravy” and the remainder was verra nice, chilled, with a slice of hare pie on the side.
I made a classic short crust recipe and added some chopped thyme for a little extra flavour. Fresh herbs are easy to grow and are a colourful way to add extra flavour to dishes. If you’re trying to cut down on salt, consider adding herbs to your culinary repertoire in its place.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
Rabbit is a flavourful, low-fat protein that is excellent alternative to chicken night after night. This pie is an (almost) authentic version of the one Jenny made for Jamie. The bacon, berries and wine combine to make a flavour-filled pot pie worthy of any century.
Yield: 9-inch pie that serves 6
For the Filling:
- Rabbit, cleaned & trimmed – 1
- Side Bacon (streaky bacon) – 2 strips
- Onion, peeled & diced – 1 medium
- Carrot, peeled & diced – 1 medium
- Chicken or Rabbit Stock – 1 Cup (240 g)
- Rose Wine – 1 Cup (240 g)
- Bay Leaves – 2
- Fresh Rosemary – 1 sprig
- Butter – ¼ Cup (60 g)
- All-Purpose Flour – ¼ Cup (30 g)
- Mustard Powder – ½ tsp
- Nutmeg, grated – pinch (optional)
- Sloe Berries, Blackberries or Blueberries – ¾ Cup
- 1 recipe Shortcrust Pastry, chilled (with 2 teaspoons of chopped thyme if you wish)
- Egg – 1
Read the whole recipe at least once before you begin.
Make the pie filling. Trim and cut up the rabbits into “collops” as described here. Including the belly meat, you will have 10 pieces. Flatten with a meat tenderizer, then season well with salt and pepper. To use the whole animal, make a stock with the remainder of the rabbit carcass.
Cut the bacon cross-wise into ¼” strips. Heat a large heavy frying pan over med. heat and fry the bacon lardons, stirring occasionally, until brown and rendered of all their fat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon.
Immediately add the rabbit pieces to the pan and cook, undisturbed, until lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, 3 to 4 more minutes. Add the onion and carrot to the pan, tucking them in the spaces between the rabbit, then add the stock , wine, bay leaves and rosemary. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the rabbit is tender, 45 to 60 minutes, stirring once or twice.
With a slotted spoon, remove the rabbit pieces from the pan and set aside to cool. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary.
Use a fork to mash together the butter, flour, mustard powder and nutmeg until well combined into a paste. Stir into the cooking liquid in the pan and cook until slightly thickened, another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until you’re ready to assemble the pie.
Move the rack to the bottom rung and heat the oven to 400° F. When the rabbit is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones in chunks. (At this point, I add these bones to the rest of the carcass to make stock.)
Divide the pastry into 2 pieces. Roll out the bottom crust and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the pastry, leaving a ¼-inch overhang. Fill the crust almost to the top with the rabbit chunks, berries and the reserved cooking liquid and vegetables.
Roll out the other piece of pastry and use it to cover the pie, crimping to attach to the bottom crust. Use a knife or small cutter to cut 1 or 2 vents in the top. Whisk together the egg with 1 teaspoon cold water for the egg wash, then brush it on the top of the pie before putting it into the oven on the bottom rack.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° F and bake until golden, another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Roast potatoes and/or a salad make a perfect accompaniment.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)
- If you don’t have any mustard powder, substitute 2 tsp. dijon mustard, and add it to the cooking liquid separately from the butter/flour mixture.
- I prefer to use unsalted butter in cooking/baking because it allows more control over salt intake. Salt makes up approx 3% of “regular” butter’s weight.
- Starting the pie on a higher heat and at the bottom of the oven will help to crisp up the bottom crust.
- Egg whites freeze very well and will keep for up to 3 months. Use them in place of whole eggs in your favourite bread recipe, or make up a batch of meringues!