Roast Saddle and Jugged Leg of Hare

Hare is generally cooked long and slow. The word jugged indicates that the blood of the animal was heated in a jug over hot water – a bain-marie in kitchen terminology – until it thickened, and then was used to enrich the cooking liquor. I don’t like the flavour this creates, so pass on this aspect of traditional cookery. The saddle is roasted rare and, as with the roast and braised wild duck dish, contrasts nicely in subtlety and texture with the slow-cooked legs.

Ingredients

  • 2 young hares
  • a little sunflower oil, for frying
  • 500 ml (18fl oz/ cup) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
  • a little grated nutmeg
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 150ml (5fl oz/ cup) red wine
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour (fecule)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Joint the hare. You will need to remove first the back legs by pulling them back from their sockets and cutting them away with a sharp knife. Similarly, remove the front shoulders and, finally, trim the remaining saddle of its flaps of skin.

Fry the front shoulders and any trimmings in a little oil, then place in a large pan with the chicken stock and cook for 1 hour to give a game stock. Top up with water if it reduces too much.

Dust the hare legs with flour and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Brown them in a hot frying pan, then transfer to a heavy lidded pot or casserole.

Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Fry the onion, celery and carrot and put these in the pot with the hare legs. Pour on the game stock and red wine, then cover and cook in the oven for 2½ hours or until the meat is completely tender.

Raise the oven temperature to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Brush the saddles with oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes. The meat cooks quickly and should be rare.

Strain the cooking liquor from the casserole into a saucepan and bring it to the boil, skimming the surface. Whisk the potato flour with 1 tablespoon of water and add to the sauce to thicken.

Carve the fillets from the saddle, slice them lengthways and lay alongside the braised legs. Serve with the sauce.

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