Monday, September 25, 2017

Making Maltese Rabbit Pie

Malta is a group of islands in the Mediterranean between Sicily and
North Africa that it has been influenced by a variety of cultures including the Roman, Moors, French, and British. While in Malta during October 2016 John and I stayed at the luxurious Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa (www.corinthia.com/en/hotels/palace-hotel-and-spa).

The hotel was once the luxury villa of the founder of Corinthia Hotels and many of the villa’s architect remains. It is located near the Presidential Palace and the botanical gardens in a quiet gentrified area of the capital. 

Rabbit Pit is considered one of Malta’s national dishes. Rabbits were most likely brought to the island by the Romans or
Phoenicians from the Iberian Peninsula. One of the items on the hotel’s menu was Maltese-style Rabbit and Mushroom Pie which, Stefan Hogan, the Executive Head Chef, agreed to let me watch him make. Rabbit is not a common food in New York State but there is a meat market near us that sells rabbit and a wide variety of unique meats.  I think any meat could be used if rabbit wasn’t available. The pie was very savory. 




  
  

Maltese Style Rabbit & Mushroom Pie (Torta Tal-fenek)

Olive oil as needed 
3 lbs rabbits ready to cook 
2 celery sticks, cut into cubes
2 carrots, cut into cubes
1 leek, sliced
6 garlic cloves
Bay leaf
Sprig of rosemary
1 cup red wine
4 cups chicken stock
8 shallots 
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup peas
2 Pie crusts  
Flour for dusting
Egg wash for brushing & glazing (one egg blended with 1 to 3 tsp milk and a dash of salt.)

Put oil in pan. Add rabbit pieces. Fry until golden brown, transfer to an oven dish.  In a separate pan put some oil; sauté half the celery, half the carrots and the leeks with two garlic cloves until lightly brown, Add to the oven dish with the rabbit. In the oven dish add the bay leaf and the rosemary. Deglaze the rabbit pan with the red wine, add to the oven dish. Cover with the chicken stock. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours. Remove from the oven. Cool. Remove the rabbit pieces from the stock and pick the meat off the bone – try and leave the meat in large chunks. Strain the liquid and reduce by half.

In a clean pan heat add some oil and lightly brown the remaining garlic, celery, shallots and carrots, drain off excess oil, and add to the rabbit meat. Sauté the mushrooms in a little oil until golden brown and add to the rabbit mixture; add the peas. Allow to cool completely. Lightly brush a circular baking dish with oil and dust with flour. Line the baking dish with the rolled-out pastry leaving half an inch of the pastry hanging over the sides, fill with the rabbit mixture. Fold the overhanging dough over mixture then cover with the remaining dough. Seal edges of dough. Brush
liberally with the egg wash. Prick the pastry with a fork. Bake in an oven at 400 degrees for the first 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to cook for approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven. Allow it to cool before taking it out of the pan. Let it rest 15 minutes before cutting.

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