hare pie – serves 6

2 hare
for the marinade
100ml olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
10 peppercorns
2 cloves
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bottles red wine to cover (an moderate Rioja works - drink any left over)
8 juniper berries, crushed
For the casserole
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
200g dry cured unsmoked bacon lardons
dusting of seasoned plain flour
200g button mushrooms
1 litre game or chicken stock
1tbsp redcurrant jelly
For the pie
3 sheets puff pastry - ready rolled is easiest
2 eggs, beaten

Remove the legs & shoulders from the hare. The loin can be reserved for another dish if desired - but I usually throw it in anyway...... cut the legs in 2 and place into a non-metallic dish with the shoulder.

Add the carrot, onion, celery, peppercorns, cloves, thyme, bay leaf, juniper berries and garlic to the dish and pour over the olive oil and red wine. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 150C

Drain the hare, reserve the marinade and discard the vegetables

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish; dry hare pieces, dust with flour and brown the hare for 2 minutes on each side. remove the meat from casserole.

Add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes. Add the fresh vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the casserole.

Add marinade to the pan and bring to the boil, skimming to remove any impurities.
Return the hare, bacon and vegetables to the casserole, add the mushrooms and enough chicken or game stock to cover. cover the pan and simmer in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the hare is tender.

Remove the casserole from the oven and strain the solids reserving the sauce. separate the meat from the vegetables. Allow to cool.

Remove the meat from bone when cooled enough to handle and flake into small pieces.

Divide hare meat and vegetables between 6 individual pie dishes

Return the sauce to the casserole and reduce by half, stir in the redcurrant jelly, check seasoning and divide between the pie dishes

Roll out puff pastry and cut lids for pie dishes. put lids in the fridge for 30 minutes. this will help to reduce shrinkage when cooked

Brush some beaten egg along the lips of pie dishes

Cover with pastry lids, crimping the edges to form a tight seal. Use any remaining pastry to form decorations for the lid, if you're feeling artistic

Cut a small cross in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape (or use a pie funnel)

Brush pastry tops with beaten egg and place in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes

Serve with mashed potato or mashed parsnip, something green and large quantities of red wine

 

Time consuming - but worth it - very different to rabbit, if you have never eaten hare, hunt some out. Franklins of Thorncote usually carry some at their farmers markets - and Best butcher can get them in if asked