This Rabbit Pot Pie has wild mushrooms and aromatics like leeks, onions and garlic. It’s a sophisticated take on the classic chicken pot pie! (Jump directly to the recipe.)
I’m told in France, there is a giant bell that flies around the country and it showers kids with chocolates for Easter. It’s a difficult mental image for me to wrap my head around, this huge metal bell that has somehow come loose from a cathedral tower, and is flying rogue around France, ringing loudly as it drops candies everywhere. But then, for French folks, I’m sure the idea of a rabbit hopping around and laying chocolate eggs for everyone is pretty oddball too.
I’m not sure how the association of rabbits and Easter came about here in the US. I’m sure if I searched long and hard on the internet, I could find the historical facts. Something tells me there have probably been numerous podcast episodes on it (there HAS to be an episode of Stuff I Missed in History Class on it, but I’m too lazy to search for it). But somehow those cute little bunnies laying eggs are part of our culture and every year chocolate bunnies show up in our Easter baskets, where kids gleefully devour them.
Of course, as an adult, I happily devour both the chocolate version of the bunny and the actual rabbit animal itself. Apparently the French and most Europeans have no issue with eating rabbit. And at one point, rabbit was rather popular here in the US, competing with chicken as a major source of protein on our menu. But then chicken won out, both because they ACTUALLY lay eggs, and well, hello fried chicken with the chicken skin beats out skinless rabbit, fried or not.
But I still occasionally find rabbit a fun thing to make. The meat is surprisingly similar to chicken. So much so that AJ’s mom once at rabbit at a dinner party while a child and declared it the best chicken she had ever eaten! Once she was informed that it wasn’t chicken, but was rabbit instead, she immediately stopped eating it. But not before everyone at the table laughed at her horrified facial expression.
So for Easter this year, I ordered a rabbit from my local shop and whipped up Rabbit Pot Pie. Years ago, a local restaurant, Mission Beach Café decided as a joke to serve up rabbit pot pie for Easter. They thought they would get a couple of orders of it and that was it. They immediately sold out and it was so popular that they ended up putting it on their dinner menu permanently for a few years and every time they try to take it off the menu customers complain. But with Easter landing on April 1st, I felt like I needed replicate that rabbit pot pie for a slightly twisted Easter April Fool’s meal. So this Easter, I’ll be eating both a real and chocolate bunny. Happy Easter!
Rabbit Pot Pie with Wild Mushrooms
- 2 1/2 pound rabbit
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 280 g
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter 170 g or 1 1/2 sticks
- 8 tablespoons water 2 additional tablespoons if needed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 6 medium cloves garlic chopped
- 2 leeks cleaned and chopped
- 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 medium parsnips peeled and chopped
- 1 pound brown mushrooms sliced
- 1 ounce dried wild mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
Roux and gravy
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 85 g
- 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 95 g
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 egg yolk
- Extra flour to roll out the dough
Take the rabbit out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the rabbit and chicken stock in a medium sized Dutch oven or oven proof pot and then cover. Place in the oven and braise for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours or until the rabbit meat is tender and cooked through. Flip the rabbit halfway through the cook time.
While rabbit is cooking, make the crust by placing the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl Cube the butter into 1/2-inch chunks and add to the bowl. Using your fingers, smash the butter into small bits, about the size of peas (but flat). Sprinkle 8 tablespoons of water over the mixture and toss with a fork until the dough starts to gather. Continue to massage the water into the dough, until it forms a ball. If the dough seems to dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until a dough forms. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the rabbit is doing cooking.
Prep the vegetables in the meanwhile by chopping them. Once the rabbit is done, remove from the oven but maintain the heat. Place the dried mushrooms in a medium sized bowl and scoop out about 2 cups of the hot stock from the rabbit pot and pour over the mushrooms to rehydrate. Remove the rabbit from the stock pot and place on a cutting board to cool.
Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the onion, garlic, leeks, carrots and parsnips into the pan. Cook until the vegetables start to soften. Remove from pan and pour vegetables into a large bowl.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan (no need to clean it) and add the brown mushrooms. Scoop out the rehydrated mushrooms with a slotted spoon (leaving the liquid for later) and add it to the pan. Cook the mushrooms until they are soft. Add them to the bowl of vegetables. Add the dried thyme and taste the mixture. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Pick the meat off the cooled rabbit and add it to the bowl of vegetables. Spray a 2 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking oil.
In the same pan (no need to clean it) add the butter and flour for the roux. Cook until the butter melted and the flour has dissolved into it. Cook for an additional 2 minutes over medium heat, or until the flour starts to brown slightly. Then drizzle the remaining stock from the rabbit pot into the pan, whisking while you do it. Scoop out the rehydrated mushroom liquid (trying not to get any grit that has settled into the bottom of the bowl) and whisk it to the pan as well. Whisk in the sherry. The liquid should be the consistency of thick turkey gravy. It will thin in the oven with the vegetables and rabbit meat but if you think it is too thick, drizzle a little bit of water, chicken stock, or white wine into the pan.
Add the gravy to the vegetables and rabbit meat and mix thoroughly. Pour into the baking dish.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out on a clean surface dusted with extra flour. Cut the dough to fit the top of the pot pie. Place on the filling, tucking any ends inside the baking pan all the way around.
Gather any trimmings and re-roll the out to cut out decorations, like bunnies or fancy braided strips to line the outer ends of the pie in an Instagram worthy pie. Slash a few vent holes on top of the pie. Beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and then brush it over the pie crust, using the egg wash to “glue” any decorations down.
Place baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drippings. If you have any extra decorative cut out pie crust pieces, place them on the baking sheet too.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling through the vent holes. If you baked extra pie crusts pieces, check about halfway through the baking to see how they look. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
Inspired by a recipe on the menu of Mission Beach Cafe