Jugged Hare

here hare here

here hare here

December 1st, 2013

Here hare here.”

A note from Jake the Poacher – Withnail and I (1987)

I bought a 5 lb hare for £7.50 from the Pheasant Girl on the Marney Lamb stall at Islington Farmers’ Market last Sunday. I first noticed them for sale about 4 weeks ago and hesitated two weeks in a row – then the following 2 weeks they’d sold out before I even got there! Luckily, this week I had one saved for me and it was a big one – so definitely worth waiting for.

hare and pheasants

hare and pheasants

It’s likely that the European Brown Hare was introduced to Britain by the Romans or an earlier civilisation, because they probably wouldn’t have spread to northern Europe before Britain was separated by the sea. Unlike rabbits, hares live above ground and nest in hollows called forms. In general the hare is a shy and nocturnal animal, but during the spring mating season, males box each other in broad daylight, in competition for a mate.

Jugged Hare is quite a traditional method of cooking hare (across Europe), where the meat is marinated for several days in wine and vinegar before long slow cooking. The hare’s blood is used to thicken the sauce at the end of the cooking process. In Britain the meat was cooked in a jug, placed in a bain-marie, so that it could be cooked for a long time over a flame without burning. The same can be achieved by cooking with a cast iron casserole in the oven set on a low heat.

Jugged Hare Recipe (feeds 4 people):

Marinade:

1 large onion (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (chopped)
1 bouquet garni
1 bottle of red wine
1 cup of red wine vinegar
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
the juice of a lemon

Cooking Recipe:

1 large onion (chopped)
2 large carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (chopped)
4 oz lardons
the hare’s blood
red wine and red wine vinegar as required
half a pint of pheasant stock (or chicken stock)
ground sea salt, black peppercorns, rosemary, sage and thyme
2 bay leaves
6 ground juniper berries
3 heaped dessertspoons of flour
quarter of a teaspoon of mustard powder
2 dessertspoons of extra virgin olive oil

hare marinade

hare marinade

Put the marinade ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes and allow to cool. In the meantime, joint the hare – cut the legs off and chop the body into 2 or 3 pieces to make it manageable. When the marinade is cold, pour it over the hare. I recommend putting it into a large freezer bag, so it can be moved around during the marination for an even soaking. Put the marinating hare into the fridge for between 36 and 48 hours. Turn the bag every 12 hours. Make sure that the heart, liver and kidneys go into the marinade and get cooked with the hare – it all adds to the flavour.

Keep the hare’s blood to thicken the sauce at the end. Stir in some red wine vinegar to stop it coagulating and refrigerate.

hare browning

hare browning

When you are ready to cook the hare, remove the meat from the marinade and coat it with flour, seasoned with a little mustard powder. Put the marinade through a sieve and reserve the liquid. Using a large casserole, lightly brown the pieces of meat in olive oil – fry a few bits at a time and don’t overcrowd the pan. When the meat is browned, deglaze the pan with a little red wine and red wine vinegar – keep the deglazing liquid.

lardons

lardons

Brown some lardons in the casserole – mine came from a piece of Spanish cured bellota pork belly, but some bacon would do.

mirepoix

mirepoix

Add and gently fry some onions, followed by the carrots, celery and garlic.

When the vegetables have softened slightly, stir in the ground herbs, the juniper berries and add the bay leaves.

juniper berries

juniper berries

Juniper is the main aromatic flavour used in gin making – a few berries go well with all game, but don’t over do it. Place the browned meat on top of the vegetables and pour on the marinade liquid plus the red wine and vinegar from deglazing the pan and the stock. This should just cover the meat, but add a drop of red wine if necessary. Bring to the boil and put the lid on before placing in a preheated oven at a temperature of 100º C for three and half hours.

slow cooking

slow cooking

Do move the meat around gently every hour and remove any oil or scum that comes to the surface. Taste the sauce after an hour or so, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. I found that it needed very little adjustment, but do follow your taste buds.

blood

blood

After three and a  half hours, remove the meat to a dish and keep it warm.

thickening with blood

thickening with blood

Stir the hare’s blood into the sauce to thicken it.

jugged hare

jugged hare

Rejoin the meat and sauce before serving with seasonal vegetables. I think mashed potato is definitely in order along with brussels sprouts or cauliflower.

I thoroughly recommend jugged hare – like a rabbit stew but much tastier – the deluxe version perhaps. I got excited when I opened up the marinade – it smelled amazing before I’d even cooked it!

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34 Responses to Jugged Hare

  1. I know this is a recipe I’d enjoy with the juniper berries, wine and lardons. I’ve never been brave enough to cook hare or even buy it. Wild bison is as wild as I’ve ever been!

  2. Nice one mate. Something I’ve always wanted to cook. But I’ve never seen hare in local butchers.
    Cheers
    Marcus

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Marcus – I have seen it in my butcher occasionally, but this year was the fist time at the meat stall in the farmers’ market. Marney Lamb do fantastic game at very good prices. You’d definitely love it ;-)

  3. It looks so good I can almost smell it from here!

  4. sybaritica says:

    Reminds me of Monty Python:

    Mother: (turning off radio) liberal rubbish! Klaus!
    Klaus: Yeah?
    M: Whaddaya want with yer jugged fish?
    K: ‘Alibut.
    M: The jugged fish IS ‘alibut!
    K: Well, what fish ‘ave you got that isn’t jugged?
    M: Rabbit.
    K: What, rabbit fish?
    M: Uuh, yes…it’s got fins….
    K: Is it dead?
    M: Well, it was coughin’ up blood last night.
    K: All right, I’ll have the dead unjugged rabbit fish.

  5. That’s such a great dish…wonderful. When we lived in Kew ( c.1978) there was a wonderful butcher, next to the station, who specialised in game. I remember ordering a hare and being asked if I would like the head and blood to be packed in a separate container. Good memories. As I was making coffee this morning a group of heavily armed men, with their dogs, traipsed past the window, probably on their way to some hare’s appointment in Samarra.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Roger. I’ve just been talking to the farmer in the farmers’ market – he was saying he was trying to protect the hare on his land to help enlarge the population. I’m very much in favour of eating animals that have had a good wild life (as opposed to being squashed up in a miserable cage)… as long as they are not hunted to extinction ;-)

  6. Amanda says:

    OMG, MD you do not mess around. This looks amazing, kind of an ancient dish. I’d love to try it. I imagine it tastes like rabbit, but more intense because of the blood and juniper. You’re so fortunate to have such a cool market to go to! I’m impressed!!! And would expect nothing less from you!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Amanda – it is very much like rabbit, but is slightly more gamey, though that one was fresh and hadn’t been hung, so not overly gamey. I really appreciate the fact that the bones are much bigger, those tiny little ones in rabbit can get quite tedious ;-)

  7. Good old Jake! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten hare and now I’m going to have to hunt some down (in the butchers, not with a gun!). And juniper berries – where will I find them? Don’t tell me Sainsbury’s – I’ll feel so disappointed if something so medieval can be found in my local supermarket ;) So lovely to see you – sorry we had to dash, Big Man was really quite poorly and we are back in Bexhill now and he is dosed up with cold medicine and feeling very sorry for himself.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Ha ha – I always loved that line in Withnail.
      It’s definitely worth cooking hare at least once and it did seem to be quite simple. Generally I adjust the seasoning and flavour of slow cooked things a few times, but the hare required almost no extra fiddling. You really could stick it in the oven and leave it for a few hours. I asked martin the farmer about cooking hare last week and he said that jugging was the best way to go – and by that I mean a long marinade and slow cook. I told him today how good it had been and he said that he’s left them in the marinade for as long as 4 days in the past with excellent results!
      I bought my juniper berries from Bumblebee, close to where I live, but you should be able to find them near you. You might even find some to forage, but failing that let me know and I’ll send some to you.
      It was brilliant to see you both last night – there were a couple of occasions in the market where I almost felt I was back in Spain ;-)

      • Will check out Bumblebbe – or am sure my mum can track some down for me in Tooting if I can’t find them here. Love things that can be cooked like the hare – perfect after a long day of building work! We had fun too and it was lovely for Big Man to be able to speak Spanish to someone other than me (at least, that’s what he said)!

        • Mad Dog says:

          I’m sure you’ll find some juniper locally.
          I was pleased to be able to speak some Spanish too – in Barcelona these days everyone speaks English – it’s quite shocking!
          What was the name for fennel in Andalucia? I’ve tried looking it up and can only find references to hinojo.

  8. Thanks for reminding me how funny Withnail and I was, haven’t seen it for years, or eaten hare for a long time. Some people comment that it’s strong, but I never thought so, not like a testosterone filled red deer stag anyway! That looks like a good value dish, especially rich with the bellota and blood. Sadly, don’t get any hares here, though there are mountain hares just north on Harris and I hope to blag one some day. Bonus is they are bigger than Brown hares :)

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Tracey – Withnail and I is a brilliant film.
      I don’t think hare is that strong either, but I do like rich tasty food. I hope you get your mountain hare – I bet they taste amazing ;-)

  9. Michelle says:

    And here I can’t even get rabbit anymore (the restaurant chefs buy it all up), and you’ve got hare! I’ve never cooked it, but have had some good hare dishes in France. Bravo!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hi Michelle – that’s so unfair!
      When I was researching recipes for jugged hare, I realised that all the old favourite recipes, across Europe, seem to be more or less the same. A long marinade in wine and vinegar, followed by a good slow cook ;-)

  10. Eha says:

    Don’t think I can access said hare, but no problems with rabbits ~ may have to do! Actually your recipe reminds me I have not made sauerbraten for the longest time: the marinade and method of cooking not so different :) !

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hi Eha, I think you’d enjoy it equally well with rabbits and I know there’s no shortage of them in Australia. It should work very well with kangaroo too! I had some expensive kangaroo from Borough Market that turned out to be a bit tough a few months ago, then 2 weeks ago, on a whim, I bought some kangaroo steaks from a cheap supermarket which turned out to be really tender – how ironic ;-)

      • Eha says:

        What a great idea! ‘Cause I always think that the ‘roo just has to be grilled [are you one of the people who calls indoor ‘grilling’ as ‘griddling’ or ‘broiling’?] and quite rare to be AOK!!? And more than half the people who say they love food here have not tasted kangaroo!! Actually , Mad, half the butchers here do NOT keep rabbit – no call for them it seems ! So I order ahead :) !

        • Mad Dog says:

          That’s a complicated question. In this country all cookers come with an overhead grill, either an electric grilling element or gas flames and the control is marked grill. People say, “Put something under the grill.” Pans with indentations for cooking meat and especially steak are called griddle pans. I think we call a long hot plate in a cafe or restaurant a griddle too. In America broil is the same as the under the grill English thing. I was in Australia for 6 months back in 1980, but it so long ago i can’t remember what you say. I think we cooked on a barbie as often as possible ;-)
          Most butchers in Britain don’t stock rabbit and not many people eat them – they think of rabbits as pets. Sadly the rabbit population has to be controlled regardless of whether people eat them or not.

          • Eha says:

            Hate to be boring ’cause do remember saying this once before ~ Down Under we are ‘simple’ people – barbecue means outdoors, putting stuff both under the ‘griller’ or over a ‘griller’ indoors means just that – I still sound like the proverbial idiot every time I use one of these terms which to me are SO simple ;) ! :) !!

  11. andreamynard says:

    Have never seen hare for sale and wouldn’t have had a clue how to cook this. Good that you’re making full use of a creature that’s had a wild life. And I want to watch Withnail and I again.

  12. ChgoJohn says:

    I can get rabbit, no problem, MD, but hare is something else completely. Never seen it here. And hare blood? No, none of that either. The rabbits I buy are all frozen and devoid of any blood or organ meats. I can by fresh rabbit nearby but, having done it once, I was appalled at the living conditions and process. I’ll stick with frozen. Really enjoyed this post, though. What a cooking process!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks John. Fresh and wild is definitely the way to go, I’ve read some very bad things about rabbit farming in France, which has put me off farmed rabbit completely.
      Hare is definitely one for your suitcase the next time you visit Europe – the meat was amazing, as were the liver and kidneys ;-)

  13. Great stuff MD. Never tried this, but it’s been on in a local restaurant a few times. If I can hold of hare, I’ll be giving this a go! Had hare as one of the courses at the Raby Hunt I wrote about recently – delicious.

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