Mark Dodson cooks hare two ways in this festive main course, pairing it with fondant potatoes, port-soaked cranberries and sautéed sprout leaves. If jointing a hare feels a little beyond you, ask your butcher for help or follow our how to butcher a rabbit guide for step-by-step instructions. This colourful Christmas lunch recipe makes a wonderful alternative for anyone looking to avoid turkey this year.
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Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Begin by jointing the hare. Remove the shoulders and back legs and gently remove the two loins from the back, removing the sinew. Chop the carcass into pieces and place the carcass on a baking tray, then roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until browned
Place the loins in a bowl and cover with the olive oil, juniper berries and bay leaf. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge
20ml of olive oil
2 juniper berries, crushed
1 bay leaf
In a separate bowl, mix together the legs, red wine, diced vegetables and garlic until well combined. Cover tightly with cling film and set aside in the fridge
200ml of red wine
1 onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
For the hare stock, add a dash of oil to a medium saucepan and caramelise the vegetables until golden. Stir in the tomato purée, then add the roasted bones and cover with chicken stock. Leave to simmer for at least 3 hours, then pass through a sieve and reserve
1.5l chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
1 celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 tbsp of tomato purée
Remove the legs from the marinade and pass the liquid into a pan. Bring to the boil and remove any impurities by skimming the surface of the pan. Pass the marinade mixture through a fine sieve and set aside
Pat the hare legs dry with kitchen paper, season with salt and pepper and sear in a hot pan. Pour over the red wine marinade, bring back to the boil and allow to reduce by a third. Once reduced, pour over the hare stock to cover, bring to a simmer and cook for 2–3 hours depending on the size of the hare
Meanwhile, make the potato fondants. Place a saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the potatoes and season with salt. Baste the potatoes with the foaming butter, turning them over until golden brown on both sides. Reduce the heat and continue to gently cook the potatoes until teneder
100g of butter
2 large potatoes, shaped into 4 fondants
Once the hare legs are soft and cooked through, remove from the heat and leave to cool. Flake the meat off the bone, then pass the cooking stock through a fine sieve and reduce by half
Place the leg meat into a clean saucepan, moisten with some of the reduced stock and bring to the boil. Bind the meat together with the double cream, then season with salt and pepper and set aside
120ml of double cream
Pour the remaining stock into a saucepan and simmer until reduced to a sauce-like consistency. Stir through a teaspoon of redcurrant jelly to add sweetness, adding more if necessary to taste
Remove the hare loins from their marinade and season with salt and pepper. Place a medium frying pan over a high heat and quickly pan fry the loins. Drain and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, flash fry the sprout leaves and girolles in a little oil over a medium heat until tender. In a separate pan, heat the port and stir through the sugar until dissolved, then add the cranberries and simmer for 2 minutes
6 Brussels sprouts, broken down into leaves
40g of girolles
1 tbsp of sugar
60g of cranberries
200ml of port
To serve, divide the leg meat between 4 plates and scatter over the cranberries, sprouts and girolles. Carve the loins into thin slices and fan across the plate. Place a fondant potato on one side of the meat and spoon over a generous helping of sauce
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