Hare is a big muscular animal, with very little fat, which makes roasting or grilling tricky. A slow simmer is therefore your most forgiving approach and the hare’s strong flavour cries out for a sauce, so stewing is definitely your best bet.
Classically the sauce for hare is always thickened with its own blood and if this idea appeals, make sure the butcher keeps it for you. If you feel this is getting closer to reality than you like, then thicken with a beurre manié, a paste made from equal parts flour and butter which you whisk in a little at a time at the end of cooking and which thickens almost instantly.
Cut the hare into
Fry the bacon strips slowly in
Season and flour the pieces of hare. Add some more of the oil to the pan then, increasing the heat to moderate and brown the hare on all sides. Transfer to the pot. Mound the onions and bacon on top of it.
Turn up the heat under the frying pan, add the wine and deglaze, scraping up any bits sticking to the pan. Pour over the hare with the stock. Put in the bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, skim, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.
About 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, fry the pickling onions in the butter and remaining olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and sauté for 5–10 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a dish and keep warm while you fry the button mushrooms. Add these to the onions.
Transfer the hare to a warmed serving dish and strain the sauce through a sieve, discarding the sliced onions and bouquet garni but scattering the lardons over the hare.
If using blood, put in a bowl. Bring sauce to the boil, turn off the heat and whisk it in a thin stream into the blood. Return to the pot over a low heat, stirring until thickened. Alternatively, whisk in the beurre manié.
When the sauce is thickened by either method, stir in the baby onions and mushrooms before ladling it over the hare.
Scatter over the chopped parsley and serve the dish with croûtes of fried bread.
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.