Hare Loin with Sauerkraut and Chestnuts


Hare loin (“hazenrugfilet” in Dutch) is the most prized part of a hare: it is very tender but lean red meat with a lot of flavor. Hare has a ‘gamey’ taste, which is not appreciated by everyone. Hare loin is often served with sweet garnishes or sauces such as port and figs, but it also works great with sauerkraut. You can hunt, skin, and butcher your own hare, or you can just get it from the butcher. This preparation is quite easy if you already have the hare loins and hare stock. I used steamed chestnuts as they are sold that way and there are no preservatives or other stuff added. The sweetness of the chestnuts works well to balance out the sourness of the sauerkraut. If you have the time it is best to cook the hare at a low oven temperature, but if you are in a hurry cook it in a hotter oven to still get a good result (but more overcooked towards the edges).

Ingredients


For 2 servings

2 hare loins

250 ml (1 cup) red wine

250 ml (1 cup) hare stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

250 grams (1/2 pound) sauerkraut

250 grams (1/2 pound) steamed chestnuts

500 grams (1 pound) potatoes

butter

2 Tbsp clarified butter or 1 Tbsp butter plus 1 Tbsp olive oil

some fresh thyme sprigs

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, chopped

Preparation


Pat the hare loins dry with paper towels, and rub with salt and freshly ground pepper on all sides.


Heat the clarified butter (or butter and olive oil) in a frying pan over high heat and add the hare loins.


Brown the hare loins quickly on both sides and remove from the pan.


Put the loins in an oven dish and insert the probe of an instant-read thermometer into one of the loins (making sure that the tip of the probe is in the center of the loin). Cook in the oven at 80C/175F to a core temperature of 55C/131F. This will take about an hour. If you want it to go faster, you can use an oven as high as 175C/350F, but more of the outer edge of the meat will overcook that way and the meat will need to rest for 5-10 minutes after you take it out of the oven.


While the hare is cooking, add thyme, shallots, and garlic to the frying pan that you used to brown the hare and sauté over medium heat for a minute or so.


Add the red wine.


Cook over medium heat until reduced by about half and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.


Add the hare stock and simmer until only about 125 ml (1/2 cup) is left.


Meanwhile, boil the sauerkraut and the potatoes for 25 minutes in salted water.


Add the chestnuts for the final 5 minutes to heat through.


Mash the potatoes and chestnuts with the sauerkraut.


Stir in some butter and taste to adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Sieve the sauce into a small saucepan.


Bring it to a boil and whisk in cold small pieces of butter until the sauce is thicker and shiny (this is called ‘mounting with butter’).


Serve the hare loin with the sauerkraut-chestnuts-mashed potatoes and the red wine sauce.

Wine pairing

Hare loin pairs well with many elegant reds, but with the sauerkraut it works best with a red burgundy or other pinot noir with some freshness.

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21 thoughts on “Hare Loin with Sauerkraut and Chestnuts

    1. Rabbit is often tough and/or dry. This is hare, which is a similar but different animal with red meat rather than white. I’ve actually never tried to prepare (or heard of) rabbit loin in a similar way to hare loin, but I suppose it should work.

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        1. That seems to be a common thing in North America. Google also seems to think that rabbit and hare are the same. Although both have long ears and are fluffy, the taste is quite different.

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  1. This is so unlike the braise that we use to cook rabbit, Stefan. The combination of chestnuts with sauerkraut is completely new to me. I doubt very much if I can find a butcher that sells loin of rabbit. I’m fortunate to be able to get rabbit at all. It’s just not a popular food item anymore in this area.

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    1. It will probably be even harder to find hare (lepre, red meat) than rabbit (coniglio, white meat). I’ve never cooked rabbit loin this way, but am going to try to. You might be able to find a whole rabbit and then cook the loins separately from the legs and other parts (which can only be stewed).

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    1. I hope you didn’t look at the picture of skinning the hare in my previous post — I was thinking of you when I put the warning for vegetarians at the start of the post.

      I love sauerkraut with hot-smoked fatty fish such as mackerel or trout. My favorite recipe is a quiche: https://stefangourmet.com/2012/03/10/mackerel-sauerkraut-quiche/
      I usually make it with a regular pie crust rather than the one with ricotta, but both are good.
      The fresh and crunchy sauerkraut is a nice contrast with the smoky creamy fish.

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      1. Thank you so much, that looks great! I am going to make your quiche next week. And I did appreciate your warning–seeing that and the furry photo I promptly clicked away. Looks like you’ve been using it well, though! 🙂

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  2. Now its interesting that while I have a big pot of sauerkraut in the fridge I only use it to munch on when on my diet (which is all the time) – and i’ve never been able to think of anything else to do with it – but I have a creation coming up which might be able to make use of this idea – thank!

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    1. Would love to hear about it. Sauerkraut also works great with hot-smoked fatty fish such as mackerel or trout. Might not be good for your diet, but is very high in omega-3 so very healthy.

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  3. Another excellent post, Stefan. Love the red wine paired with the sauerkraut. I’m about to start a batch of sauerkraut and will try your sauerkraut recipe when it’s done. While we have rabbit in the grocery store, it is not the same as a wild hare – tastes more like chicken. So, I will have to use another protein. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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    1. Thanks, Richard. If you can get venison, that is a pretty close substitute. The red wine only works with the sauerkraut if it has good acidity, so a pinot noir from a cold climate is excellent. Pinot noir is also made quite a bit in the German/French region where sauerkraut is eaten a lot.

      P.S. You seem to have the same problem I have — it’s hard to keep up with all the blogs I follow sometimes even though I’m only following a small selection. Am curious what you think of my croquettes.

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