As I pointed out before, although both are furry and have long ears, a hare (“lepre” in Italian) is red meat and different from the white meat of a rabbit (“coniglio”). The recipe for Lepre alla Cacciatora (Hare Hunter’s Style, or in fact the wife of the hunter) is however quite similar to the recipe for Coniglio alla Cacciatora. Both are stewed in wine and tomatoes. The main differences are that hare is marinated and cooked in red wine with just a bit of tomato, whereas the rabbit isn’t marinated and cooked in white wine and tomatoes.
I made this dish to finish cooking the hare that we skinned and butchered by ourselves. The legs are even more gamey than the loins, and this recipe will produce a very strong-tasting deep brown sauce that is great with mashed potatoes and celeriac (celery root). As usual, please use a full-bodied red wine for this that is good enough to drink, since the taste of the wine will play an important role in this dish.
the legs of 1 hare
1 bottle of full-bodied red wine, preferably Italian
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flour for dusting
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
8 sage leaves
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 juniper berries
1 bay leaf
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 Tbsp double-concentrated tomato paste
250 ml (1 cup) hare stock
2 Tbsp corn starch
500 grams (1.1 lbs) potatoes, peeled and cubed
500 grams (1.1 lbs) celeriac, peeled and cubed
Add the bottle of red wine. The meat should be covered. Cover and marinate for at least 12 hours or overnight. It is best to stir halfway, otherwise you’ll end up with ligther spots on the meat where the vegetables and herbs were like I did.
Bring to a boil and immediately lower the heat to very low. Let simmer for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender over very low heat. There should only be an occasional bubble rising to the surface, otherwise the meat will get too hot and will dry out.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and celeriac in salted water for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain the excess water after cooking. Mash to obtain a puree. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Use the corn starch mixture to thicken the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil and let it boil for a minute until the sauce has the desired thickness. Then take off the heat and return the meat to the sauce to warm it back up.
This is good with a full-bodied Italian red such as barolo or chianti classico.