ROMNEY WORDSWORTH – I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas over the weekend. My family has a tradition of making a meat pie for Christmas Eve. The tradition is for Rabbit Pie, which my mother would make on Christmas Eve Day. The family would go to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, and when we came home we would eat Rabbit Pie and open our Christmas Stockings, then go to bed and open presents later in the day. Now that I’m a Dad I have revived this tradition for my family. I’ve made pies with other sorts of meats as well, but this year I went back to tradition and made Rabbit Pie, and would like to share the recipe.
A newer tradition that we enjoy is to get together with two other families we know on Boxing Day where the Dads, and only the Dads, hold a Meat Pie Competition. The Judging is done by our children. Wives just get a free day off without having to worry about cooking a meal.
Yours Truly is Reigning Champ for the last two years, although I prefer the title of Iron Chef Meatpie. So, you know this recipe is good! First is the crust.
All you need for a tasty pie crust is some all purpose flour, a bit of salt, some vegetable shortening, and butter.
I’m really into French cooking, and tend to use a LOT of butter. I love the smell of butter in the kitchen…It smells like VICTORY!
2 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
6 to 10 tablespoons ice water
Whisk together the flour and salt.
Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
Cut the butter into small (about ½”) cubes.
Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don’t be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.
Add 4 tablespoons of water, and toss to combine.
Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky, fairly cohesive mixture. It should hold together when you gather it up and squeeze it in your hand.
Divide the dough in half, and gather each half into a rough disk. Smooth the disks; it’s OK if they have a few cracks in the surface. Smooth the disks’ edges by running them along a floured surface like a wheel.
Wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes, or up to overnight. Or wrap in aluminum foil over the plastic, and freeze for up to 2 months.
When you’re ready to make pie, remove the crust from the refrigerator or freezer, leaving it wrapped. Allow it to thaw (if it’s frozen) or warm a bit (if it’s been chilled longer than 30 minutes), until it’s softened enough to roll, but still feels cold to the touch.
Next, measure the bottom diameter, and up the sides of your pie pan. If your pan is 7″ across the bottom, and 1 ½” up each side, that’s a total of 10″. This means you should roll your bottom crust to a diameter between 11″ and 12″, which gives you enough extra for crimping the edges.
Place the crust on a floured work surface; our silicone rolling mat is a fine choice. Roll it to the desired width.
Place the crust in the pan by folding in quarters and placing in the pan. Or you can simply pick it up with a piecrust lifter, and move it that way.
For a double-crust pie, leave the edges of the bottom crust as is (no folding or crimping). Once you’ve added the pie filling, roll out the top crust to the outside diameter of your pan, and place it atop the filling.
Trim excess crust with a pair of scissors, then press the two edges together. Crimp as desired. A simple fork crimp is fast and easy. At this point, it helps to return the pie to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes; this chills the fat, which ultimately increases the crust’s flakiness.
Cut a hole in the center of the crust for steam to escape. Or slash the pie’s top surface several times. I usually go for a Christmas Tree, but if you have Christmas Cookie forms, they work really well too. Brush with an egg wash.
The raw pie, after rolling out the dough and adding the filling
I find that local Chinese or Asian Supermarkets are a great source for obtaining fresh rabbit, but I have also used an Abbatoir and an organic butcher. I bake the raw rabbit at 375 degrees for about an hour. This will not achieve having the meat fall off the bone, but it is more important I feel not to over-cook the meat. Season with a dry rub. I use a mixture of onion and garlic powder, with pepper and a pinch of salt.
This year I also added a small filet of diced Flat Iron Steak, braised in a fry pan but not fully cooked, seasoned with pepper and garlic. Chopped portabello mushroom caps, and diced onion are individually sautéed in a fry pan, with butter. Diced carrots are boiled for five minutes to soften. This year I added peas as well. Mrs. Wordsworth thought my meat pies have been too meaty, with nothing but meat, onion, and mushroom. Next year will my own counsel keep, to paraphrase Yoda.
Raw Rabbit, seasoned and ready for the oven.
All the individual ingredients, sautéed and ready to be mixed. As I binder and to add moisture, I mix everything with cream of mushroom soup. Also added was fresh tarragon, sage, and parsley, hand chopped. You just can’t beat the taste of fresh herbs in a meat pie.
The raw filling all mixed, and added to the pie.
Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until the crust is golden brown. Don’t forget to brush the top crust with an egg wash.
Christmas Eve Mass was fine. Despite my prediction, my mass had no sermon at all. Instead the children of the Parish put on a Nativity Play. The kids were great! The Church Choir at our Parish is first class, and they have added a Bell Chorus as well. It really was a great evening, and I’m not just saying that because Mrs. Wordsworth sings in the Church Choir. I didn’t check the time once during the Musical Prelude.
What was different this year: For the first time in my life, there was a township policeman standing watch outside the church during the service. He was there a long time, from before the Prelude started (which lasts two hours) and through the Mass as well. It wasn’t hard to figure out from this what those “unspecified terror attack threats” had been leading up to Christmas. I found myself whispering to my sons some instructions about what to do if we were to hear the dreaded war cry of “ALLAHU ACKBAR” from behind us at the front of the church: “Keep your head down, and run to the cloak room at the side of the altar. It has stone walls and a heavy oak door with a lock.” Such is the “New Normal” in America. Even though there were no attacks this year, I suspect it is only a matter of time before Jihadis shoot up a Christian congregation during a church service.
The Boxing Day meat pie competition started out well enough. The competition was quite fierce this year. Our host, we’ll call him Louie Liberal to protect the identities of the innocent, came up with a solid meat filling of nothing but diced skirt steak, with a sauce that tasted like beef stroganoff, but was actually achieved using cream cheese and gorgonzola. The second contestant, we’ll call him Paul, had a beef pie fortified with beef bone marrow for a super rich taste and texture. Paul’s wife, we’ll call her Gina, gave us the unvarnished details: Paul had set off his smoke alarms and filled his house with smoke while melting down the bone marrow, with the oven set for 500 degrees! I suggested he use his barbeque next year (maybe with a cast iron pot?). Then there was my entry: The same recipe as I used for Christmas Eve, only in a giant sized, over stuffed tray. Hey, quantity has a quality all its own! This contest was a complete reversal, with my rivals copying my all meat technique while I had opted, at my wife’s urging, for a more balanced mix of vegetables.
After the judging by the kids was in, we had a tie on taste between me and Louie Liberal. The kids dinged me a lot for the peas. I should have seen that one coming. I did get the nod from the adults trying the pies, if for no other reason than because it was such a rare treat to eat rabbit. I have been accused of buying my past victories by using expensive ingredients, but rabbit is actually much cheaper than skirt steak these days.
Then after we had finished eating and were working on our fourth bottle of wine, the conversation somehow turned to politics. That’s when things got very interesting. I remember making a comment about how I think Donald Trump is going to win the GOP nomination, and that I half expect the Washington Elites to resort to political assassination, like with JFK and Bobby Kennedy. Louie then made some sort of comment indicating his approval of Trump being assassinated, but I cannot remember the exact words. Gina, Paul’s wife, then unleashed a verbal fusillade on Louie.
Gina announced that she was going to vote for Trump as well. That she was through with voting for Democrats. That she thought Trump would turn the economy around and improve the lack of jobs in America, and that she agreed with Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration until we know who these people are who are coming into our country.
And that was when Louie’s head exploded. You know, we writers talk a lot about Liberal Heads Exploding, but I had never actually seen it happen before (I don’t have a lot of Liberal friends, no surprise). Louie’s face turned beet red. His long graying hair went flying wild with each gesticulation, each becoming more vigorous than the last. Louie thundered back at Gina:
“What’s next? Are you in favor of internment camps? Are you going to bomb all one billion Muslims?!?”
I want to take a moment to note here how the Liberal brain, and Liberal ears, work. Or maybe it’s that I don’t speak Liberalese. But when you say “temporary ban on Muslim immigration”, a Liberal hears “I want to round all the Muslims up in Internment Camps and nuke the Middle East”. It’s just an ever so slight difference in interpreting what people, usually Conservatives, have to say. And I think the reason why Liberal brains translate “temporary ban” into “genocide” is because they are used to ascribing evil motives to anyone who disagrees with them.
See, a Conservative doesn’t merely differ on policy when they disagree with a Liberal. A Liberal assumes we disagree because we’re ALL EVIL RACISTS. We don’t really care about public debt, oppressive taxes, and regulatory strangulation—it’s really because we just HATE THE POOR. The efficacy of Liberal policies and Liberal programs are never contemplated because Liberals’ intentions are PURE, GOOD, and JUST…unlike the evil Conservatives.
Gina, to her credit, did not back down. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I now know what it would be like to be married to Gina and have her really, royally, pissed off at me. It was the kind of anger that a woman usually reserves for her husband when he really screws up. Maybe it was because she had already been mad at Paul for smoking up her house, but she let Louie have it between the eyes, with both barrels. Paul joined in, telling Louie what for, and why Trump isn’t a bad guy. I tried to de-escalate things by listening to Louie’s wife, we’ll call her Jaina, who was calmly yet firmly explaining why Donald Trump makes minorities in this country uncomfortable.
That didn’t really help things. Louie got up and left the kitchen in a huff, and retreated to the second floor of the house. I later learned he was informing the children that this year’s get together might be ending early.
Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about Louie. He’s a good man with a big heart. He definitely leads with his heart over his reason, but I think that is true of most Liberals. Nobody in the room is a bad person. But I suspect that Louie has swallowed the Liberal talking points about Donald Trump: He’s a racist, and anyone who supports him is a racist too. So for Louie it was like his best friend and his wife both were announcing in Louie’s kitchen that they are evil racists.
Louie and I get along well. We even talk about politics. I think Louie has always been okay with having one conservative friend, because he could always dismiss or ignore anything I say as “well, that’s just that old crank, Romney, talking. Pay him no mind. But Saturday night was different, because this time his normally stalwart Liberal Democrat allies and friends, Paul and Gina, came out of the closet as Trump Democrats. Louie found himself IN THE MINORITY of opinion! At his own dinner party no less! And Gina was actually QUOTING TRUMP! Quelle Horreurs! Clearly, it was all a bit of a shock to Louie’s psyche.
Well, I’m happy to report that we all are still friends. And this is because we ARE all good, well meaning people. Louie and Paul play in a band together, and that would be a very hard bond to break. Louie invited me to go hiking this morning, and we had a nice two hour hike. We even talked politics. Although I was tempted to ask him when we met if he was going to kill me right away, or wait until I was exhausted and sweaty.
I do think though that Paul and Gina are representative of a larger phenomenon: Formerly Liberal Middle Class Democrats have had it with a Democrat Party that has inflicted a Great Recession on them almost a decade long. They genuinely worry and fear for their Children’s future welfare and job prospects. They are very afraid of a government that wants to import unvetted Muslims from the Middle East and secretly plant them across the country in the wake of what is happening in Western Europe. They don’t like having to worry about whether their kids’ school bus might get blown up by the next Jihadi Jane, and they do not accept that Liberal prescription that the answer to terrorism is to confiscate all the guns from law abiding Americans. Liberal Insanity is catching up to the elites of both parties this year, which is why the elites in both parties have joined ranks to open the borders to unrestricted immigration. They intend to import new voters and disenfranchise the Middle Class, because the Middle Class is waking up to its ongoing destruction at the hands of Washington.
For lack of any other options, they are increasingly turning to Donald Trump.