The story goes it was an 18th century food writer, Hannah Glasse, who began a recipe with the words “First, catch your hare.”
Possibly because they can reach speeds of 72 km/h, possibly because they just don’t seem to be as common as rabbit or pre-packed pork chops.
In the spirit of being helpful, however, she might have added, talk to the brother-in-law. I’d no sooner mentioned to this keen hunter of all things moving that we hadn’t had hare for years, than he turned up with a fine speciman dropped in the front paddock.
While the cat recoiled in terror at the huge animal before her, we gave him a cup of tea and pondered the best way to prepare said hare.
We settled on a sort of version of jugged hare, known as civet de lievre in France – only without the blood, because those recipes call for the blood to be added at the end of cooking and we hadn’t collected it.
Did I say ‘we’ – here should be mentioned that other vital ingredient to the dish, which is the brother-in-law’s brother, otherwise known as the husband. Who quietly went off and prepared the creature, while the cat decided maybe the big beast wasn’t so scary after all, and possibly a small piece for a well behaved moggy might be in order?
Basically, you take a whole hare, cut it into pieces, marinate it and then cook it with red wine and nice things. Traditionally in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water, but who can be bothered with such details.
We cooked our Lepus europaeus in a big stainless steel pot, and after three and a half hours it was tasty, tender and almost falling off the bone.
It will feed us for a few days to come, too, because hares are awfully big.
Hare sandwiches. I can’t wait.
Jugged hare (sort of)
1 hare, jointed
6 slices streaky bacon
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teacup lemon juice
2 glasses red wine
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
20 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
A handful of black olives
Fresh, chopped thyme, parsely, rosemary
2 cups stock
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
Marinate the hare in the lemon juice and half of the oil for at least eight hours.
Retain the marinade and, after drying the meat, fry it until nicely brown. Remove and fry the bacon in the juice, and, if so inclined, the heart, kidneys and liver. Then quickly fry the onion and garlic. Return the hare to the pan and pour in the marinade.
Add wine, olives, herbs and season to taste. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat, simmer for 3 and a half hours.
Ten minutes before serving, remove the hare to a warmed platter. Melt the butter in a small pan, and slowly mix in the flour, stir into the cooking juices to thicken slightly. Pour this into a jug, and serve with the hare.
Tell the cat to remove herself from the table, and enjoy with mashed spud, some beans and carrot. Or a spot of salad.