Jugged Hare with Soft Polenta and Parmesan

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The best polenta for this is Bramata, which we use in the restaurants and can be found in all good Italian delis. Just follow the packet instructions, but use half milk and half water for the liquid and cook for at least an hour (the longer you cook it the more the flavour develops), then add freshly grated Parmesan and good olive oil to taste.

Ingredients

  • 4 legs and 4 shoulders of hare (plus 3 tablespoons of hare’s blood if available)
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 knobs of butter, 1 chilled
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 500 ml full-bodied red wine
  • 1 litre light chicken stock or water

For the Marinade

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 juniper berries, crushed
  • 300 ml pineapple juice

For the Polenta

  • 300 g polenta (see above)
  • About 750 ml milk
  • 250 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • about 100 ml good olive oil

Method

The day before, make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss the pieces of hare in the marinade to coat well and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.

Next day, remove the hare from the marinade and pat dry. Strain the marinade and reserve. Season the flour and lightly coat the hare in it. Melt a knob of butter with a splash of oil in a heavy-based casserole and sear the floured hare until lightly coloured all over. Add the reserved marinade, red wine and stock or water. Bring to the boil, skim and simmer gently until cooked – the meat should be almost falling off the bone, about 1½-2 hours. The shoulders may be cooked before the legs; if so, carefully lift them out and reserve while the legs finish cooking.

While the hare is cooking make the polenta as described above, mix in the grated Parmesan and olive oil, and season to taste.

When all the hare is cooked, take the pieces out of the liquid and keep warm. Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the blood, if you have it, together with a knob of chilled butter, and adjust the seasoning. Finally, add the reserved meat back to the liquid. If you have used the blood, do not allow the liquid to boil again after adding or this will give the sauce a grainy texture.

Serve the hare with the sauce and the polenta, sprinkled with more grated Parmesan.

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