- Serves: 4
- Cook Time: 5 hours 45 minutes
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Effort: medium
- 3 onions
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 9 sprigs thyme
- 100 ml madeira
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 heads garlic, cut in half widthways
- vegetable oil, for frying
- knob of butter
- flour, for dusting
- 300 ml red wine
- 300 ml ruby port
- 300 ml veal stock
- 4 very thin slicessmoked bacon
- 8 sage leaves
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
For the Autumn Vegetables
- 2 large parsnips, cut into even-sized cubes
- 2 large turnips, cut into even-sized cubes
- 4 sage leaves
1. Finely slice 2 of the onions, using a mandolin if you have one. In a lidded pan, melt the butter and slowly sweat the sliced onions with 3 sprigs of thyme and a sprinkle of salt until the onions become very soft. Remove the lid and very gently caramelise the onions. This should take about 40 minutes - 1 hour.
2. When the onions are golden brown, add the Madeira and reduce it to a syrup. Check the seasoning - you should be able to taste the salt, the natural sweetness of the onions and the Madeira. When done, pour the onions out onto a tray to cool.
3. Roughly chop the remaining onion. Put the chopped onion, carrots and garlic in a large casserole dish with a dash of oil and a knob of butter. Gently cook until golden and beginning to caramelise. Add the remaining thyme and caramelise for a further 2 minutes or so.
4. Preheat the oven to 140C/ gas 1. Remove the back legs and the saddle from the hares, season with salt and pepper, and coat lightly in flour. Add to the vegetable pan and brown the hare well - this should take about 5-10 minutes.
5. Pour over the red wine, port and veal stock. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid. Cook in the oven for 3 hours or until tender.
6. Take the casserole dish out of the oven, removing the lid and paper. Take the meat out of the braising liquor, put onto a tray and cover with cling film - this will stop them drying out. Once the legs are cool enough to handle, flake the meat away from the bones (checking carefully for any shattered bone or pellet shots).
7. Raise the oven temperature to 160C/ gas 3. Pass the cooking liquor through a fine sieve, discarding the vegetables. Bring the liquor to the boil and reduce the liquor by half, tasting frequently or it may become too salty. Mix a little into the shredded meat.
8. Layer the meat in the bottom of a medium casserole dish. Pour some of the liquor over and lay the smoked bacon on top. Follow with a layer of the caramelised onion, the sage leaves and finishing with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with a little salt and pepper, pour a couple of spoonfuls of cooking liquor and bake in the oven for about 40-50 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Put a lid on for the first 10 minutes then remove it for the remainder of the cooking time.
9. For the autumn vegetables: heat the butter in a frying pan until hot. Add the celeriac, parsnips, turnips, sage leaves and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the hob and cook on a very low heat, turning the vegetables over continuously, until they are all evenly cooked - this takes around 12-15 minutes. Drain away the excess liquid and serve alongside the hotpot.
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