Rabbit Pie by Journeyman Leather

by Elizabeth Atia -

Jo Tonkinson has always had a passion for working with leather. She began as a young apprentice in Walsall in the West Midlands, making bridles and saddles out of the finest English bridle leather before starting to work for herself.

Disillusioned with life on the mainland, Jo wanted to move somewhere civilized. Jo and her family moved to Shetland 25 years ago and she established her business, Journeyman Leather, in Sandness, on the far west side of the island.

Using ancient techniques and the finest quality leather she makes a wide variety of products including bags, belts, saddlery and dog leads. The most popular items she crafts are the 1-1/4 inch belt with a west end buckle and the traditional Shetland knitting belts 'maakin' belts' made with horsehair.

The internet has made a big difference to the success Jo's remote island business. In the week before I paid her a visit while touring the Shetland Craft Trail recently, she'd posted handmade items to America, Australia, Japan, France, Ireland, England and Wales.

Jo also makes a mean rabbit pie! I'd heard about this legendary rabbit pie before I even had the pleasure of meeting Jo. She's kindly shared the recipe along with her own photographs of the recipe process with A Taste of Shetland.

Journeyman Leather can be found on Facebook.

Rabbit Pie

Course: Main

Servings: 6 peopl

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 100 minutes

  • Rabbit - 1
  • Stock -
  • Shetland butter - (or oil of choice)
  • Wild field mushrooms - (or mushroom of choice)
  • Mace blades - 2-3
  • Whole cloves - 1-2
  • Allspice berries - 3-4
  • Whole black peppercorns - (to taste)
  • Whole nutmeg - (freshly grated)
  • Shetland Dairies single cream - (plus Shetland buttermilk)
  • Salt -
  • Puff pastry - 1 Quantity (home made or shop bought)
  • Shetland hens' egg - 1 (mixed with a little water to make an egg wash)
  1. I soak the rabbit over night in cold water. You don’t have to though.
  2. Rabbit PieThen I simmer it in stock for about an hour. If it’s not tender then and falls off the bones easily, it gets boiled up for the dogs and cat.
  3. I then fry the meat in a little butter, but you can use any oil of your choice, Butter, I think, gives a better flavour.
  4. Rabbit PieNext find some wild field mushrooms, if not any kind of mushroom is good. The big wild ones are a better flavour and texture. Chop them roughly, nice big chunks are best and add them to the rabbit in the pan and let them cook a little.
  5. Rabbit PieFor the seasoning, I take a pestle and mortar and pound a small quantity of mace blades, a clove or two, some allspice berries, black peppercorns and be generous with the nutmeg. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of the mixture over the rabbit and mushrooms.
  6. Rabbit PieThen add some single cream. The rabbit will soak up a lot of cream so sometimes I put in some Shetland buttermilk too so it’s not too rich. If the sauce is a bit thin a tablespoon of Philadelphia will thicken it again. Now taste and add more of the pounded spices if needed and some salt.
  7. I make a puff pastry with half plain flour and half strong white bread flour, butter and lard. Resting it in a bag in the fridge between turns means it won’t shrink on top of the pie when you cook it.
  8. Rabbit PieFill a deep pie dish generously, nothing worse than a pie with cavities!
  9. Rabbit PieCover pie with the pastry , egg wash it and give it 40 minutes or so in a hot oven.
  10. Rabbit PieOne Wascally Wabbit put to good use!
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