Stuffed Hare or Rabbit Braised in Wine

Lagos Gemistos Krassatos

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In the mountainous region of Epirus, where this recipe comes from, game is fairly common, especially in the fall and early winter.

Stuffing the hare with olives brings us back to an earlier style of cooking, since today olives are quite uncommon in Greek dishes. It’s particularly odd to find olives in a recipe from a region that never produced them. I think they were added to make the dish more precious and exotic, much like we add chestnuts to the festive stuffing of turkey or chicken today.

Serve with warm boiled wild greens or spinach.

Ingredients

  • 1 hare or wild rabbit, with innards

Marinade

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Sea salt and 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Stuffing

  • cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½-1 teaspoon minced fresh chili pepper or dried red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 2 cups small black olives, pitted
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Sauce

  • 5 cloves garlic, quartered
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

Wash and dry the hare or rabbit. Mix all the marinade ingredients and rub the marinade all over the hare and inside its cavity. Place the hare in a large, nonreactive bowl, pot, or deep pan that can just hold it, pour the marinade on top, and cover. Let stand in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, turning it at least once a day.

Wash, dry, and chop the liver, heart, and other innards. In a deep, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped innards and sauté until firm. Pour on the wine and add the garlic, water, oregano, chili pepper, nutmeg, and bulgur. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the olives. Remove from the heat and cover. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 350° F.

Remove the hare from the marinade and dry with paper towels. Stuff its cavity and sew up the opening. Place the stuffed hare in a deep pan, preferably with a lid.

Strain the marinade into a saucepan. Reserve the bay leaves but discard everything else in the strainer. Cook the liquid until it is reduced to 1 cup. For the sauce, mix the reduced marinade with the garlic, olive oil, wine, oregano, and salt and pepper. Baste the hare and pour the rest into the pan. Cover with the lid or with 2 layers of aluminum foil and roast for 1½ to 2 hours, basting frequently. Turn the hare over after it has cooked for 1 hour.

When done, cut the hare into serving portions and place in a serving dish together with the stuffing. Cover and keep warm.

Discard most of the fat from the sauce, pour some sauce over the meat and stuffing, and present the rest in a sauceboat. Serve immediately.

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