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Monday, 15 June 2015

Bad Hare Day? Never!

To those who know me and are sniggering because I don’t have enough hair for it to go bad, I say this; Your time will come!

I speak of the Great British Hare, of ‘Mad March’ variety of course, I have watched them for many a happy hour, often from a high seat and because they don’t look up very often, I have looked down on them from very close quarters, their enormous feet give them phenomenally sure ‘road holding’ and massive acceleration but they are very noisy walking about in wooded areas with a lot of leaf under foot.

Mad March Hare - - 712029
The Brown Hare (Lepus europaeusGordon Hatton [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
When the truly Mad March Hares are around, their ‘boxing matches’ are a marvellous spectacle, you can see fur flying on the breeze and hear them thump in to each other with significant force, they knock each other flying on occasion and also leap high in the air, I’ve seen them 3 feet in the air on many occasions. Whilst I have never seen a Hare blinded by their ‘boxing matches’ I believe some must be, as the focus of the opposing Hare is often at face level and looks very fierce indeed.
The lop eared and big footed Hares, especially young ones can be dangerously inattentive at times, I have often had one come bounding up to me when standing still and quiet, really close, a few feet, not even yards until they realise their error and bound off. They give the impression of a toddler in his dad’s boots and appear comically clumsy at times but then they have a phenomenal turn of speed when they realise they need to be somewhere else!

The Hare will watch you very attentively from a distance if they think you may be a threat but not until you get closer. Many years ago, I was told by an elderly neighbour who had farmed on the edge of Romney Marsh for many decades and through both world wars, ploughing with both horses and steam engines, that if you saw a Hare watching you, you could hang your coat on the fence and it would watch your coat while you crept around behind it, he was right! I tried it many years ago and bagged the odd Hare using his method.

Whichever way you want to watch, photograph or shoot Hares, they are a thing of beauty and amazement, comical, fast and yes…just mad sometimes but also very tasty.

So let’s assume for a moment that you have acquired a Hare, road casualty, shot or bought in the farmers market, what do you do with it? Let’s also assume that it has no guts and you can get it out of its fur.

There is very little meat on the front legs and shoulders of this mini greyhound of a creature so unless you boil everything off the bone and use it to make a stew or casserole, they are of little use except to make stock or gravy. The loins and hind quarters on the other hand are plentiful in rich dark meat, fit for the plates of royalty! Casserole with something red, I use grape juice but as for my pigeon recipe, many use wine, juniper and cranberries, rough cut vegetables and seasoning to taste, all equals slow cooker magic. The meat will fall off of the bone and serve with home-made crusty bread to soak up all the gravy, truly a dish fit for a King, Queen, Prince(s), Nobleman……….you get the idea, really good grub!

Now if you wanted to try something a little more exotic for a special guest, including the aforementioned royalty, here are 2 more ideas, both utilising the loins. The loin is that long strip of meat either side of the spine (usually from the hip / pelvis down to the front shoulder area) and sometimes referred to as the back strap. At some future point I’ll explain the Tender Loin but for now let’s just stick to Loin. The loins can usually be removed just with the hand once a sharp knife has been run down the spine and across the pelvis / hip end of it, this meat is super tender! It will likely have a very thin layer of muscle / sinew on the outside which just has to come off! Lay the loin, inside up on a cutting board, with a sharp knife cut almost all the way though then pull the meat away from the knife and hey presto, sinew and meat separated! The loin tapers towards the front, so as its dimension reduces, just fold it double to ensure you have the same thickness of meat to deal with from the front and back of the loin.

Choice one is to slice the loin into medallions about 5 mm thick and flash them in a wok and add to any other stir fry ingredients you fancy, easy as falling off a log!

Choice two is a little creation of my own and it’s absolutely superb but of course I would say that wouldn't I?
Take a piece of loin about 2 to 3 inches long and fry it in a wok or frying pan with a little seasoned oil and a few onions which have been in the oil long enough to soften. The loin only needs a couple of minutes max, as soon as it’s close to done (a little on the rare side) get it out of the oil pronto and let it rest, no particular reason for resting it, just lets it cool down enough so that you don’t get third degree burns doing the next bit with your fingers! Take the loin and wrap it in a rasher of fat bacon (smoked or otherwise to taste) and put it under the grill until the bacon is done how you like it, serve with anything you fancy but I’d suggest honey roast root vegetables and butter-nut squash, you can’t go wrong with that.



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