Sunday dinner and I finally got round to preparing the hare that Peter hunted in Pojo a couple of weeks ago. The hare weighed in at 5.2kg which is pretty huge compared to the rabbits I used to stew in France. Having dismally failed to plan ahead (no red wine in the house) I decided to go with beer instead and Rekolan's juniper beer (Katajan Kuiske) is perfect for this recipe.
The hare needs to be jointed and the joints are then generously dusted in seasoned flour. I prefer lots of black pepper and not much salt for this. These are then fried in rapeseed oil and placed in the stew pot. The pan is deglazed with some of the beer and the liquid is added to the pot with diced carrots and parsnips, and some onions (keep them whole if they are fairly small). I topped up with the rest of the beer and some beef stock, the sauce will thicken with the flour already covering the meat. Add crushed juniper berries and peppercorns and a handful of whole garlic cloves.
To give some depth of flavour we added dried, powdered trumpet (funnel) chanterelles which we forage and dry ourselves. They add a strong forest taste without resorting to conventional spices.
And then the whole thing sits in the oven for as long as you've got on a low temperature until the whole house smells great! The meat literally falls off the bone. We had ours with butternut mash and french beans but it would be great with celeriac mash and brussels sprouts or just boiled potatoes and broccoli or steamed kale.
Chop about 2kg of tomatoes, half a kilo of apples and 750g of onions and heat them up in 600ml of cider vinegar (I used a mix of cider vinegar and some leftover raspberry vinegar). Zap a finger of fresh ginger, six fat cloves of garlic and some chili (I used dried) in a blender with 2 tsp salt and a little liquid from the tomatoes in the pan. Add the ginger-garlic-chili paste to the tomatoes. Add 500g of sugar and about 200g of sultanas. I found a nice bag of mixed sultanas at the supermarket - different colours and sizes. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Reduce the liquid on a fairly high heat for about 30-40 minutes until the chutney is thick. Then put into hot, sterile jars and store for a few weeks before using. The recipe is more-or-less the one from Thane Prince's 'Jams and Chutneys' book.
I had to buy the ginger and the sultanas (and the sugar - I could've used honey I suppose) everything else was home grown. I'm off to the UK at the end of the week and will be travelling down to Somerset so... I'll be able to bring back some authentic West Country Farmhouse Cheddar and we're all set for a Ploughman's Lunch.