Starters and hors d'oeuvres
Stanstead Rabbit and Maple Pastilla
For the rabbit:
- 2 rabbit legs (500 g / 18 oz.)
- 100 g (3 ½ oz.) onion, cut in coarse pieces
- 40 g (1 ½ oz.) carrots, cut in coarse pieces
- 5 g (1 tsp.) ginger, chopped
- 60 ml (4 Tbsp.) maple syrup
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 sprig each of cilantro and parsley, tied together
- 20 saffron threads
- 750 ml (3 cups) water, or as needed
For the filling:
- 100 g (3 ½ oz.) dried apricots, chopped coarse
- 150 g (5 oz.) onions, chopped fine and browned in butter with salt
- 50 g (2 oz.) toasted almonds, chopped coarse
- 50 g (2 oz.) toasted pistachios, chopped coarse
- 30 ml (2 Tbsp.) maple sugar
- 45 ml (3 Tbsp.) cilantro, chopped
- 45 ml (3 Tbsp.) parsley, chopped 5 ml (1 tsp.) ground cinnamon
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) ground ginger
- ½ ml (⅛ tsp.) nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 60 ml (4 Tbsp.) rendered duck fat or rabbit broth
For assembling the pastillas:
- 8 sheets of feuille de brick pastry* (2 per pastilla)
- 100 ml (about 3 oz.) melted butter
- Ground cinnamon
- Maple sugar
- Sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit). In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the rabbit preparation. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat falls away from the bones.
- Soak the apricots in boiling water to rehydrate them. Drain and set aside.
- When the rabbit is cooked, remove from the oven. Remove the rabbit from the saucepan and pull the meat off in small pieces. Strain the remaining ingredients out of the cooking liquid and reduce it to use it as a sauce.
- In a bowl, combine the rabbit and the filling ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Let rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours before assembling the pastillas.
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Lay out a sheet of pastry on a work surface and brush with melted butter. Top with another sheet of pastry and again brush with melted butter. Repeat the previous two steps three more times to create four squares of pastry. In the centre of each square, place a quarter of the filling. Close each pastilla by folding over first the top and bottom of the pastry and then the right and left.
- Transfer pastillas to a baking sheet, smooth side up. Hold the pastillas in the refrigerator or cook them immediately, baking for 15-20 minutes. Serve with the warm sauce.
- Before serving, finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon, maple sugar and almonds.
*Feuilles de brick can be found in Mediterranean supermarkets or gourmet groceries.