Jugged Hare

The hare is a curious creature, steeped in mythology and affected by the moon. It is swift-footed, and possesses fearfulness and Aphrodisian lasciviousness, qualities which are conspicuous in any self- respecting satyr; hence, it was much admired in the olden days of gods and heroes and was meant to keep you sexually attractive for nine days after consuming its flesh. Try it out for kicks–why not? My feeling is that it is one of the most delicious of meats, whether jugged, roasted, potted or what you will.

When you purchase your hare be sure to take a receptacle with you for the blood which is most important to this dish–the smell is filthy but the result divine. Have the hare jointed into eight pieces and proceed in the following manner.

Ingredients

  • 1 young hare with its liver, heart and blood

For the Marinade

  • 1 bottle of burgundy
  • 150 ml/¼ pint olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed with a spoon
  • 5 bayleaves, crushed
  • grated rind of 1 lemon

For the Cooking

  • 85 g/3 oz well-seasoned plain flour
  • 115 g/4 oz unsmoked bacon, diced
  • 115 g/4 oz butter
  • 10 cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100 g/ oz best bitter chocolate
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 225 g/8 oz button mushrooms, sautéed in butter
  • 225 g/8 oz button onions or shallots, sautéed in butter

For the Forcemeat Balls

  • 115 g/4 oz dry white breadcrumbs
  • 55 g/2 oz beef suet or butter
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp each finely chopped fresh parsley, thyme and orégano
  • 1 slice of cooked ham, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • milk
  • Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Marinate the hare, with its chopped liver, blood and heart, overnight in all the ingredients listed. Cover with cling film and keep somewhere cool.

Dry off the hare pieces with paper towels (reserve the marinade). Put the seasoned flour into a plastic bag and shake the hare pieces in it so that each piece is coated evenly. In a large frying pan fry the bacon in the butter gently until the fat runs out. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Fry the pieces of hare briskly until they are browned all over, then place in a good iron casserole. Sprinkle the bacon and crushed cloves over the hare.

Add any flour that is left to the juices in the pan; stir and cook gently until amalgamated with the fat. Add the marinade little by little and cook to simmering point, stirring and scraping the pan to mix in all the little bits. Add the tomato purée and the chocolate broken into little bits. Stir until all is mixed and melted. Season with salt and black pepper and pour over the hare.

Cover the casserole tightly with foil and its lid. Place in a preheated oven at 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 to cook for 3 hours. Half an hour before serving add the sautéed mushrooms and onions and some forcemeat balls.

To make the forcemeat balls, which are well worth the effort, mix the breadcrumbs with the suet or butter. Add the lemon rind, herbs and ham. Add the egg and enough milk to bind the ingredients together but keeping the mixture firm. Season with a dash of Tabasco or cayenne pepper. Flour your hands and form walnut-size balls. Fry in olive oil for 5 minutes to brown all over.

Serve the completed dish with a good redcurrant jelly, a purée of celeriac and potato (twice as much celeriac as potatoes) and some fine little Brussels sprouts.