Hare Ragout with Red-Wine Risotto

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

For the following recipe, make the ragout first. The soffrito of vegetables is a base for many Italian sauces. I find it worth making double or triple the quantities given here, and storing it for later use. And indeed, I usually make at least double quantities of the meat sauce to use on another occasion. It is particularly good with pasta, and makes an excellent lasagne. Minced or chopped venison, beef, veal or pork can be made into rich meat sauces following the same method.

Note: I have always reckoned on a pinch being the amount you pick up between forefinger and thumb, and a good pinch being what you pick up with thumb, forefinger and middle finger.

Ingredients

Ragout

  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot 1 leek – optional
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • hindquarters of a hare
  • 5 tablespoons good dry red wine, i.e. a good splash of it, and the same of milk
  • a good pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 or 4 peeled plum tomatoes, i.e. half a 400 g (14 oz) can
  • salt
  • pepper

Risotto

  • 1 onion or 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • about 500 g (1 lb) risotto rice
  • 300 mls (½ pint) full-bodied red wine
  • about 1 litre (2 pints) vegetable, chicken or game stock seasoning
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter – optional chunk of fresh Parmesan

Method

Peel, trim and chop the vegetables finely, keeping the onion separate. Fry this gently in the olive oil, and when translucent, add the remaining vegetables. Cook until soft. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the bones, and dice it. Keep the bones to cook with the sauce for extra flavour.

Fry the meat with the vegetables until it loses its raw exterior. Raise the heat, and add the wine. When it has evaporated, add the milk and nutmeg. When the milk has been absorbed, add the bay leaf, rub the tomatoes through a sieve into the sauce, and simmer, partially covered, on the lowest possible heat for up to 2 hours.

The sauce can then be cooled and refrigerated for later use, or towards the end of cooking time you can start the risotto, which will take 40 to 45 minutes.

Sweat the vegetables in the oil until translucent, and then stir in the rice until well coated in oil. Have both wine and stock simmering, and add half of the wine to the rice. Stir it well, and when the wine has been absorbed, add the rest of it. When this, too, has been absorbed, start adding the stock, only pouring in more once the previous batch has been absorbed. Keep stirring. You might find the rice done to your liking before you have added all the liquid, but I like a creamy risotto, and I tend to use a good deal of stock or boiling water at the end, if I have used up all the stock.

Just before serving, season to taste, and stir in the butter, if using it, to give an extra gloss. Spoon the risotto into heated soup plates, and spoon some of the hare ragout on top. Let each person grate their own cheese onto the risotto.

Roasted onions are very good with game, as is a purée of celeriac and garlic. When roasting onions, it is best to leave them exactly as they are, with all the outer skins, as these help to prevent the onions from burning. Place them in a clean, greased ovenproof dish, with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, depending on size, at 180-200°C/350-400°F/gas mark 4-6. If cooking them at the higher temperature, cook towards the bottom of the oven.

They look good served as they are; pop them out of their skins at the table. Do not waste the skins. Pour some water into the cooking dish, where the onion juices will have caramelized to a nice brown. Pour into a saucepan with the onion skins and, when you have done with them, any game bones or carcasses. Simmer together to make a well-flavoured, clear, dark brown broth. Use it for the previous recipe or the two.

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