salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices Serrano ham
a knob of butter
splash of olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut thickly
100ml cabernet sauvignon red wine vinegar
300ml red wine
1.25 ltr chicken stock
6 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 bay leaf
sprig of rosemary
1 tbsp of chopped tarragon
1 tbsp of chopped parsley
good serving of mashed potato to cover
250g chestnut mushrooms
Remove the front and back legs and the loins from the hare carcasses
Make the duxelle. All we want here is mushroom flavour. No butter. No shallots. No lemon juice. Just mushrooms. Chop the mushrooms finely. You can use a food processor to do this but be careful to not purée the mushrooms. Your goal is to have small granular pieces.
In a large sauté pan over a moderate heat, sweat the finely minced mushrooms. Cook over a moderate heat until the mushrooms throw off their liquid, leaving no pools of liquid in the pan. Stir occasionally. This process can take up to 20 minutes. When done the mushrooms will resemble an almost paste-like texture. Pure essence of mushroom.
Season all the saddles of hare with salt and pepper. Lay two or three slices of Serrano ham together on a chopping board to the length of the loins. Lay two loins in parallel on the slices and put the mushroom duxelle down the centre between them. Roll into a tight roll and leave to chill in the fridge.
Make the cottage pie. Melt a knob of butter with a splash of olive oil in a heavy-based pan and colour all of the remaining hare pieces until golden. Lift out and set aside. Now add another knob of butter and splash of olive oil, and colour the vegetables and garlic. When they are coloured, return the browned hare to the pan, add the red wine vinegar and reduce it almost completely away. Add the wine and reduce that by two-thirds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, bay leaf and rosemary, bring to the boil and skim. Simmer gently for about 2 hours, until the meat is tender.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Lift the hare out and set aside to cool a little. Strain the sauce, reserving the vegetables.
Reduce the stock to a sauce-like consistency. Pull the hare meat from the bones and combine with the vegetables and chopped herbs.
Put the mixture into pie dishes with a few tablespoons of the sauce (the remaining sauce will be for the finished dish) and a drizzle of olive oil. Pipe over the mashed potato.
Put the cottage pies in the oven to bake for 30 minutes
Take the loins from the fridge about 30 minutes before roasting to reach room temperature. Colour lightly in a pan and roast in the pre-heated oven alongside the pies for about 10-15 minutes.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then carve and serve alongside the cottage pie with a drizzle of the reserved sauce
Serve with braised fennel