This recipe for hare ragù and pappardelle comes from Trish Hilferty and Tom Norrington-Davies, authors of Game: a cookbook.
(Serves four) - 1 hare (approximate weight 1.5kg)
- Mild olive oil for cooking
- 100g smoked streaky bacon, finely diced
- 500ml red wine
- 1tbs tomato purée
- 1 level tsp cocoa powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 300g pappardelle or similar pasta
- 2tbs butter
- 50g Parmesan cheese
For the marinade- 1 bay leaf, shredded
- Leaves from 1 small sprig of thyme
- 6 juniper berries, crushed
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 2 leeks, finely diced
- 2tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Joint the hare and reserve the blood. Combine the hare, vegetables and aromatics with the extra-virgin olive oil and any of the hare's blood. Transfer to a mixing bowl or a tub that can fit in the fridge and marinate the hare overnight.
The next day, strain the meat through a colander, reserving any juices from the marinade. Pick the meat from the vegetables and pat it dry. Reserve the vegetables.
Heat the cooking oil in a large, wide-bottomed pot and brown the hare pieces all over. Remove them with a slotted spoon and fry the bacon until it starts to crisp up. At this point add the vegetables and any marinade juices.
Allow the juices to evaporate and then add the wine. Allow it to evaporate too, and then stir in the tomato purée and cocoa powder.
Return the hare to the pot and cover it with water. Season generously and bring the pot to a gentle simmer.
Let the hare cook for at least two hours. You want the meat to be very tender, almost falling away from the bones, and the time this takes will depend on the hare.
Once the hare is cooked, let it cool until it is easy to handle. At this point pull the meat from the bones. This can be fiddly, especially near the ribs. Make sure all the bones are gone. Mix the shredded meat back into the cooking liquor and check the seasoning.
To serve, boil the pasta in plenty of salty water until it is cooked al dente. Meanwhile, bring the hare ragu back to a good simmer and stir in the butter. Drain the cooked pasta very briefly, leaving it damp, rather than fully dry.
Toss the pasta with the ragu to serve, check the seasoning once more and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan.