Pasta con Sugo di Lepre

Pasta with Hare Sauce

In Sardinia, wide use is made of Pasta Asciutta (literally translated as dry pasta, it actually means pasta which is boiled, drained and dressed with a sauce). In the hunting season, the sauces are often made with wild boar, hare or other locally shot game. Traditionally, the blood is an essential part of this dish and the ideal would be to use a freshly shot animal which you have hung yourself and which you can then skin and gut as you require. However, if you do not want to do it yourself, order a jointed hare or rabbit in advance from your butcher and ask him to keep the blood for you separately.

Ingredients

  • 75 g ( oz) streaky bacon
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) olive oil
  • 1 small hare or rabbit, divided into 8 joints, with its blood
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 bottle rich red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • a few cloves
  • a large pinch of cinnamon
  • a large pinch of dried mixed herbs
  • bouquet garni
  • 400 g (14 oz) spaghetti
  • freshly grated pecorino sardo cheese, to taste

Method

Fry the bacon in deep flameproof casserole with the oil, then add the hare and brown it all over. Add the onions and garlic and fry for a few minutes until the onions are golden and soft.

Sprinkle the flour in and cook for 5 minutes, then pour in the wine. Add the salt and pepper to taste, the cloves, cinnamon, dried mixed herbs and bouquet garni. Stir it all together, cover and simmer for about 1½ hours.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente (tender but still firm to the bite). Drain and transfer to a warm bowl.

Pour the sauce from the hare over the pasta, toss together thoroughly with as much grated pecorino cheese as you like. Arrange into 4 portions on plates and put 2 pieces of hare on top of each pile of spaghetti. Serve at once. Alternatively, serve the spaghetti with the sauce and serve the hare as as second course with vegetables and potatoes or salad.

Instead of spaghetti, you might like to try a wide ribbon noodle. This is traditional in Tuscany, although it is rather unusual to find a celebrated pasta dish in the northern part of the country. In Pappardelle con la lepre, wide homemade noodles are served with a hare and red wine sauce rather similar to this one.

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