LEPRE ALLA PIEMONTESE (HARE – SLOW BRAISE PIEDMONTESE STYLE)

This is a photo of a segmented hare ready to braise. The hare has been sitting in my freezer for about 6 weeks, but because it is very hard to find, I buy when I see it, irrespective of whether I am ready to cook it or not.

I chose an Ada Boni recipe for cooking hare in the Piedmontese style (recipe from Italian Regional Cooking, Bonanza Books 1995).  Boni’s recipe is slightly different to other Piedmontese style recipes recipes I looked at and it includes cognac; other recipes may also contain any of the following ingredients, for example: cinnamon, garlic, rosemary and juniper berries.

I use recipes as a guide and I alter quantities and ingredients to suit my tastes. I like spices and herbs and increased the quantities; I prefer and used fresh herbs rather than the dry suggested in the recipe. Both Barolo and Barbera are wines of Piedmont and understandably Boni suggests using Barbera for the marinade wine, but I used a good quality Australian red wine and chose to drink the Italian. Chocolate smooths out the sauce and I used a greater amount than suggested and rather than adding 4 teaspoons of sugar I added very little sugar; I like using stock and added some to the braising liquid.

I have not used Ada Boni’s words, but the procedure for preparing the hare is more or less what she suggests.

In Australia I have yet to purchase a hare with its liver, heart, little alone its blood – these are used to thicken the sauce towards the end of cooking.

I have written about hare before. See:

HARE or RABBIT COOKED IN CHOCOLATE. Lepre o Coniglio al Cioccolato (‘Nciculattatu is the Sicilian term used)

PAPPARDELLE (Pasta with Hare Sauce)

Interestingly enough, Alex the small friend in the photograph is now very much grown up.

PAPPARDELLE Continued…

Use an earthenware bowl for the marinade and a heavy bottomed saucepan with a well sealing lid to braise the hare.

Hare ready to serve no garnish

Being a Piedmontese recipe, plain polenta makes a good accompaniment.

1 hare cut into pieces (4 legs, back cut into 3 pieces, ribs into 3),
1 and 1/2 bottles of red wine- use enough to cover the hare (Barbera is preferable),
2-3 carrots,
2 large onions (1 for marinade, 1 for sautéing)
3 stalks of celery,
2 bay leaves,
3-4 black peppercorns,
3 cloves,
pinch of marjoram, and pinch of thyme,
salt to taste,
2 tablespoon of butter,
¼ cup of olive oil,
2 tablespoons of bacon fat cut into small pieces (I think that lardo or speck is intended – I used the fat from prosciutto, same taste and texture),
1 square of bitter chocolate, grated,
4 teaspoon of sugar,
3-4 tablespoons of cognac.
 
PROCESSES
Chop one onion, carrots and celery and put them in an earthenware bowl  with the segmented pieces of hare. Add the herbs cloves and peppercorns and a little salt. Cover with the win and let it marinate for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Drain the hare (take the pieces from the marinade and drain them) and then drain the vegetables separately. Keep the wine for cooking the hare.
Heat oil, lardo and butter and brown the hare pieces – use high heat. Remove the hare from the pan and any juices.
Add the onion to the same pan and sauté it gently in a little oil. Add the drained vegetables and sauté these for a few minutes.
Return the hare (and any juices) to the saucepan, pour in the wine (from the marinade), add a little salt. Make sure that the lid is on tightly. Simmer for about 2-3 hours until the meat is cooked. I also added about 1 cup of stock.
Remove the cooked hare and put aside. Remove the bay leaves and if you have used sprigs of herbs remove any of the remaining small sticks (If you can see the pepper corns and cloves remove these as well).
Rub the vegetables in the sauce through a sieve, use a mouli or blend the vegetables in the sauce.
Return the sauce to the saucepan, stir in chocolate, add the hare and taste the sauce – if you think it needs a little sugar add this.
Add the cognac last of all (I only used about 2 tablespoons).
Serve with plain polenta.

Polenta and wild asparagus 2

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