Lepre in Porchetta

lepre

lepre

14th October, 2015

Some time ago I saw a recipe for coniglio in porchetta – a rustic Tuscan dish of rabbit cooked like stuffed, boned pork. I thought it looked marvelous, somewhat like a mini suckling pig …and who could resist that? I was quite keen to try the recipe the next day, but couldn’t find the required fennel or rabbit, so the idea got filed away somewhere in my head. Fast forward about 9 months and game started to appear at the Farmers’ Market which reminded me to try cooking suckling bunny.

I bought a couple of my favourite Napoli sausages from the butcher, to make stuffing and arrived at the Farmers’ Market the next day, sure that the Pheasant Girl at Layer Marney Lamb would have a rabbit for me – she always has three or four. Of course she didn’t, but she did have a small hare (the size of a big wild rabbit) instead and offered me a discount because it was smaller than usual. I hesitated for a second, but thought it might still work, especially as small equals younger, tender and less gamey. I bought a couple of fennel bulbs from Martin at Perry Court, along with my regular vegetables, and rushed home to check the internet for ideas on cooking hare like Tuscan rabbit. I was delighted to find that rabbit and hare are interchangeable and it’s common to cook hare the same way.

stuffing

stuffing

Lepre in Porchetta recipe (feeds 3 or 4 depending on the size of the hare):

Stock:
2 fennel bulbs
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
a bouquet garni
a little salt and pepper (to taste)
6 juniper berries
6 chicken carcases
2 pints of water

The main dish:
1 hare with giblets and blood
2 Napoli sausages (casings removed)
6 slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
a dessertspoonful of lard or goose fat
a splash of red wine vinegar
a dessertspoonful of plain flour
sea salt and cracked black pepper

I peeled the stock ingredients, where appropriate and cooked them for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker. If using a normal saucepan then simmer for an hour or so, until the stock tastes good. When the stock is done, strain and allow to cool. I believe the genuine Tuscan broth is simpler than mine, containing not much more than wild fennel stems and garlic.

stuffed

stuffed

Chop the giblets and two slices of pancetta or smoked bacon, then mix with the sausage meat and lard to make a stuffing. Stuff the cavity of the hare and use a skewer (or in Tuscany a fennel stem) to close it up. It could also be tied or sewn. Once again I have deviated from the traditional – original recipes for rabbit or hare cooked like pork, involve deboning the animal. I left the bones in for additional flavour.

wrapped

wrapped

Season the hare with some salt and pepper, then wrap in 4 slices of smoked bacon or pancetta and put it into a preheated oven at about 200ΒΊ C for about 20 minutes.

browned

browned

The idea is to brown the meat slightly before adding the stock.

cooked in stock

cooked in stock

Pour on half a pint of stock (I left a little fennel in my stock) and a splash of red wine vinegar, cover the dish with foil, turn the oven down to 180ΒΊ and cook gently for 2 hours. Baste the hare every 30 minutes or so and add a bit more stock if necessary. When the hare is cooked, remove it from the dish and wrap it in foil to rest for 30 minutes while you make gravy with the juices.

thickening

thickening

Using the juice in the oven dish, make a roux with a dessertspoonful of plain flour and then turn it into gravy with the leftover stock (gravy recipe here).

bloody gravy

bloody gravy

Slowly stir in the hare’s blood to thicken and add flavour at the end. You must keep stirring while you add the blood or it will clot and go lumpy.

sliced

sliced

Slice the hare and serve with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Normally hare can taste gamey, but cooked this way it becomes quite refined and delicate.

I recommend drinking a robust red wine like Era Costana Crianza with hare and other game.

Advertisements

About Mad Dog

https://maddogtvdinners.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Food, Game, Meat, Recipes, Shopping and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Lepre in Porchetta

  1. Eha says:

    What a fantastic recipe! Love the stock with the fennel and the juniper and have to try this as soon as . . . and lots of homework ahead amidst my ‘time off’ to follow all of your links, some of which methinks I do remember . . . today is the BD of my beloved father, my older daughter and the passing of my best friend, so perchance I should have a special recipe to remember . . . thanks !!

  2. Goodness! This is a remarkable recipe. And so .. what is the word .. Primal! I will tell you a little rabbit story that I think you may appreciate. The other night Hugo and I were driving up our drive when in the headlights we saw a cat, a small cat running along ahead of us dragging something bigger than itself back up to the barn. Hugo, my recovering French hoodlum from the streets of Avignon (not waiting for the car to stop as usual) leapt out and raced ahead to catch whatever the cat had caught. It turned out to be a rabbit and Hugo being Hugo STOLE it from the cat. Will it live? he called to me as i stopped the car, holding up the lifeless body of the rabbit. I don’t think so, I said but we can put it in the cage for the night and see. In the morning I took the body of the dead rabbit and walked around to the pig paddock. I did not realise that Hugo was up as well and was sneaking up on me to give me a fright (his favourite thing). As he was creeping up behind me, I pulled my arm back and threw the rabbit in a long ark into the pigs pen. Hugo leapt up and saw what I was doing at the same time and shrieked OH MY GOD! (as he watched his rabbit fly into the rabbits bowl) WHAT ARE YOU DOING? (You have to say that in a French accent) Oh dear. I thought. Just imagine if i served him suckling rabbit!! Wonderful.. love c

    • Mad Dog says:

      I’m ROFL – what a story! I’ve had cats that ate rabbits and squirrels, right down to the tail (one even managed to steal a roast leg of lamb from a neighbour). I’ve also seen and read a few things that state cat saliva is fairly toxic to small birds and mammals, so most things they bite will die sooner or later.
      Rabbit is extremely popular in France, so I suspect Hugo might enjoy the Tuscan stuffed rabbit, though not the one the cat dragged in πŸ˜‰

  3. Eha says:

    Miss C – does that bit of eye candy know you are calling him ‘a recovering French hoodlum’? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ ? Vat veere yu duing indiid with that rabbit?

  4. This looks like a good recipe but I guess I’ve never cooked a hare. It looks so red!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Rosemary. Rabbit often looks quite red too, though with a hare they come with blood because it’s traditional to use it to make a gravy or sauce πŸ™‚

  5. When I first saw the photos I thought it might be another of Oli’s projects – what an amazing colour a hare is! I don’t think I’ve ever cooked one but of course, now I really want to. Stunning recipe and a good chuckle too at Celi’s story πŸ™‚

    • Mad Dog says:

      Ha ha – thanks Tanya. It’s very Tuscan, I wonder if your dad has had it, or the more common rabbit version? I’m sure rabbit would taste great with fennel stock, stuffed with a spicy Spanish sausage. Cecilia’s story was hilarious – I wondered if the pigs ate the rabbit? πŸ˜‰

  6. MD! What an amazing recipe It reminds me of the Bourdain in France episode where Bocuse makes his rabbit recipe. In typical “you” fashion I like how you do nothing to disguise that this is a dead piece of meat, giblets and all. I actually bought a rabbit last month and have it sitting in my freezer because I was afraid to attempt something that wouldn’t work. This looks like the perfect recipe! I love that you make your own stock too. What an incredible undertaking and so perfectly described. Truly stunning. I’m going to try to give it a go.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Amanda – I particularly liked that Bourdain show in Lyon – even the school children there eat a gourmet lunch. This recipe is absolutely perfect for your rabbit, though my favorite is rabbit with snails, which is very popular in Spain.
      I’m amazed at how rabbit has lost its food status in Britain and America, particularly here, since either the Romans or Normans introduced them from mainland Europe specifically for food. In France an older rural generation still keep rabbit and pigeon, alongside chicken as a food staple. Britain has a huge wild rabbit population (they breed like rabbits) which has to be culled to stop it eating all the farmed vegetables. They eat well, the meat is lean and they lead natural lives πŸ™‚
      BTW the Bourdain show in Marseilles, a couple of weeks ago, was a very good one too!

  7. Eha says:

    Hello Amanda! If you eat beef, lamb, pork or chicken, and are thus not vegetarian, why on earth would a delightful bit of hare put you off? I simply fail to understand people who do have meat and not love liver, kidneys, brains, sweetbreads [my alltime favourite together with tripe above all] or somehow not get hugely excited by octopus, cuttlefish or squid? I have actually had people turn their heads aside when I quite naturally was delighted to buy these . . .What on earth is ‘wrong’ with ‘wabbit’ . . . absolutely delightful even if I was sorry for the fate of this one l!!!!

  8. Michelle says:

    Wow! We don’t find hare here (I’ve eaten it but never cooked it myself in France), but we cook rabbit often. Sounds delicious. And what a first pic.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Michelle. Hare’s a luxury here really and not common like rabbit. They are occasionally available in the autumn and are normally expensive – I’m very lucky to have that game stall at the Sunday Farmers’ Market. I’m quite sure this recipe is cooked more often with rabbit in Tuscany πŸ˜‰

  9. Conor Bofin says:

    Wow! MD, when you post this type of stuff you do it so well. I am very impressed. The I love the skewer work to seal the hare. They are very rare here. I must keep an eye out for one. Very good job.

  10. Karen says:

    I’ve had loin of rabbit that was stuffed and thought it very good. Your young hare sounds perfectly prepared.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s