Casseroled Hare with Quinces

These joints of spiced hare in a smooth red pepper and tomato sauce are perfect accompanied by boiled potatoes, rice or buttered noodles, and a crisp green salad or vegetable. Quinces contribute a unique flavour which is excellent with meat but if they are difficult to find use hard pears instead.

Ingredients

  • 2 red peppers, cored, deseeded and chopped roughly
  • 500 g (1 lb)tomatoes (the plum variety if available), chopped roughly
  • 1 very large onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 rounded tablespoon caster sugar
  • 600 ml (1 pint) medium or dry cider
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1.5-1.7 kg (3-3½ lb) joints of hare
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 500 g (1 lb) quinces, washed but unpeeled
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

Put the roughly chopped peppers, tomatoes and onion in a large saucepan with the sugar, cider and sherry vinegar and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Place the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, then cover the saucepan and simmer gently over a medium heat for about 30 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave on one side.

Heat the groundnut oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, and fry the joints of hare on both sides just to brown them. Remove the joints from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the hare with the chopped garlic and the other spices.

Pour the contents of the saucepan into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Work the purée through a fine sieve, taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and black pepper if necessary. Pour the puree over the joints of hare. Cover the casserole and cook in the centre of a preheated oven, 240°C, 475°F, Gas Mark 9 for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3 and cook for another 1½ hours or until the hare is tender.

Finally, cut the washed quinces into quarters, cut out the cores and add the quince pieces to the casserole dish, mixing them in roughly. Cover the dish and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until the quinces are just soft. Scatter with the chopped fresh parsley just before serving.

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