Cooked by Angelina - serves four
We are lucky to live on the Somerset/Dorset borders, where hare is not so difficult to get - a quick call from Richard at Balsons of Bridport and off we go. They are big buggers - which means one hare would feed not only four people for this hare ragout recipe; but you'll be left with the saddle to use for another of my dishes. This takes a bit of prep and cooking - but boy is it worth it.
For the Hare Marinade...
Front legs and back legs of one hare (save the saddle for my Saddle of Hare recipe)
Sprig of Thyme
8 x Juniper berries
Peel of one orange (don't take the pith)
For the Hare Stock...
Ribs and flaps from the hare
Half bottle of good red wine (that you like drinking yourself)
1 x Ltr Chicken stock
8 x Peppercorns
2 x bay leaves
Sprig of thyme
For the rest of the Hare Ragout...
Plain Flour (enough to coat the legs)
6 x shallots
4 x cloves of garlic
1 x packet of pancetta
Small glass of port
Large glass of red wine
1 x squeeze of tomato puree
1 x tin plum tomatoes
2 x bay leaves
1 x sprig thyme
The Hare Stock you made earlier
2 x cubes of very dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa if you can)
Drop or two of cream (depending)
Cubes of butter (depending)
Parmesan (to taste)
For the Pasta Shells...
1 x packet of pasta shells - I find the big sea shells (conchiglie) best for this dish
Method: The Marinade...
Whip the front legs and the larger back legs off your hare and place into a dish - cover them with olive oil (not the expensive stuff) and add to that some aromats - thyme, juniper and strips of orange peel.
Scrunch the aromats and oil into the legs for a few seconds, then cover and leave over night in the fridge.
Method: The Stock...
The following day, make some lovely hare stock - with the remaining part of the hare (should be the big saddle, then the ribs and flappy bit either side) remove the ribs part and flappy part - set aside the saddle in the fridge.
Brown off the ribs and bits in a pressure cooker (or normal pan if you don't have one of those - if you don't, I thoroughly recommend getting one, for stocks alone).
In the same pan, add the red wine and scrape off all the lovely brown bits on the bottom. Reduce this down by about a third (and a bit) then add your chicken stock, the thyme, the bay leaves and the peppercorns.
Bring this to the boil, then add the lid. When the cooker starts singing, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 mins.
Method: The Ragout
Put your hare legs in seasoned flour and brown in a heavy pan. Add in your shallots (whole is fine) and garlic cloves (peeled is better) and fry off. Then add you pancetta and brown it all together.
Once browned nicely, remove all everything and deglaze the pan with the port - scrape the bottom at the same time to release all those lovely brownings. Once reduced a little, add the red wine and reduce one more (maybe a quarter of it or so).
Now add a squeeze of tomato puree, the tin tomatoes, the bay leaves, the thyme and the hare stock that you have just made. Everything you set aside (legs, shallots, pancetta etc) - add them back in, give it a stir, put the lid on and simmer away for an hour.
After an hour - take out the two small legs - shred the meat off (it should fall off) and pulse the meat in a blender.
Now take out the big legs and shred again - this time add them straight back into the pot (along with the blitzed smaller legs). Simmer the pot again for another 30 minutes, until tender.
The sauce should be lovely and thick - but if it isn't quite what you want, remove the meat and turn up the heat - boil until it becomes thicker. It is at this point you should also add in some grated very dark chocolate - but not too much - two squares is plenty.
If you want extra luxury and sheen, stir in a drop or two of cream and some cubes of butter - whisk into the sauce, then add back in the meat.
Method: The Pasta
If not already, drive to the shops and buy some sea shell pasta - the big stuff (conchiglie).
Open packet, add to salted boiling water and cook to instructions (minus 1 minute - the residual heat will then make it perfectly al dente).
Drain then add to your meat dish - still in, add some parmesan if you wish - serve in large, deep bowls and tuck in.
Waiter, waiter - there's a hare on my plate
Angela's easy Hare Ragout recipe...
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