My mother is officially the Queen of food thrift. As a testament to this, I have been eating rabbit for four days straight. Yes, that’s right: those two beautiful bunnies I (mostly) used in Sunday’s Rabbit Stew have gone on to become a delicious Rabbit and Butter Bean Soup, and on still further to become (oh, so terribly cute) little Rabbit Pies.
And it’s the pies I want to tell you about. They reminded me rather a lot of some that my Gran used to make, which had a filling of corned beef and onions, and involved a heinous amount of lard in making the pastry. And I adored them. That is, until I asked her to show me how she made them and I learned about the whole, ‘half a pack of lard per pie’ thing. (I used to quite happily eat a whole pie to myself, you see.)
Nowadays I’m a big fan of lard. For pastry purposes, anyway. It gives the pastry a strangely light and slightly crispy texture, which you simply don’t get when using all butter. In my Mum’s little Rabbit Pies, she used half lard-half butter and double the weight of flour to the weight of fat. (I love it when people speak in measurements like that. My aim in life is to one day be able to make at least half the things I cook without the use of weighing scales, and communicate all my recipes using the vaguest of terms: ‘a dash of this’ and ‘half a handful of that’.)
She took the few bits of rabbit that didn’t make it into the stew and first made a stock (which later went on to become a soup), before removing all of the meat from the bones and mincing it with root vegetables, some onion, rosemary and seasoning, and encasing it all in 18 rounds of pastry.
This evening, we sat down and calculated that, from those two bunnies, we had – theoretically at least – managed to feed 18 people. Incredible. 6 servings of Rabbit Stew, 6 servings of Rabbit and Butter Bean Soup and 6 servings of Rabbit Pie.
I think that statistic alone proves that my mother has earned her title.