How to cook a hare…
This post comes on the back of a day of hare based opportunities. A friend of mine graciously offered me a freshly shot hare, a fine specimen which would have yielded a good couple of dinners for both myself and, er, myself but I declined with equal grace.
If I am going to eat a bunny then it has to be rabbit, the flavour is more subtle and lends itself to a broader spectrum of cooking possibiities, hare not so. If I was to eat the hare then I would have to leave it to hang, undrawn for eight or nine days for it to develop its flavour and tenderise the flesh, frankly I couldn’t be bothered.
In the working kitchen a hare would arrive skinned and sometimes (annoyingly) jointed. Skinning and drawing the blood in a commercial kitchen is a big ‘no-no’. The environmental health officer would blow a gasket if he saw me skinning a dead animal and rightly so. Hygienic it isn’t. Smelly it is, so get someone else to do it, you’re not missing anything, trust me.
Treat the saddles and legs seperately, use the legs and neck in a slow cook pot number. Do something with an Italian feel; bit of wine, some garlic, a bunch of rosemary or sage, some bacon, shallots, nice fresh stock. That sort of thing, add some pasta or chunks of potato towards the end for a bit of a thickening agent. If you want to go the whole
hog hare then keep the drawn blood and have a go at jugged hare…
I remember my Dad returning from a business lunch many years ago to tell me that he had seen hare on the menu with chocolate sauce. Fat chance of seeing that now, venison and chocolate maybe, I digress. To finish a hare sauce with its blood simply place the blood in a bowl and add a little of the cooking stock to thin the blood out. You can add grated bitter chocolate to your stock followed, gradually by the blood mixture. Keep stirring.
If you managed to get the blood then you should have the liver as well, finely chop this and add it to the finished sauce, it will thicken and enrich your sauce beyond imagination (repeat for rabbit)
My second hare opportunity came later in the day as I walked alongside a field of peas towards an open field where I had previously seen a beautiful barn owl. A rustle of pea shoots, a pair of big ears and the time it took to turn my camera on and focus and it was all but gone. Visually it is a fine creature, the farmer whose field it was on might beg to differ but I would rather photograph it than cook it.
If this blog is stil going when they invent photographs with built in ’smell-o-vision’ then I’ll treat you all to a masterclass on drawing the blood from a hare. That’ll be something to look forward to!