In vineyards and properties around parts of Australia, hares are quite common and can be a destructive pest. With this dish, it’s just using your surroundings to make a great substantial one-pot meal for some hard workers – the grape pickers!
- 2 whole hares
- 8 carrots
- 1 leek, trimmed
- 5 French shallots, peeled
- 1 purple garlic bulb, cloves peeled
- 10 kipfler potatoes
- 50 g (⅓ cup) plain flour
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
- sea salt flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 litre (4 cups) fresh pinot grape juice (see Note)
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 300 g peeled chestnuts (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Prepare the hares by cutting into a sauté cut (the front and back legs, followed by the loin cut across the backbone into 3–4 pieces). You can ask your butcher to do this for you.
Wash the vegetables, then chop the carrots in half and slice the leek into 6 pieces. Leave the shallots, garlic and potatoes whole.
Heat the olive oil in a large braising pot that is big enough to fit both hares and vegetables. Dust the hare pieces in flour. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat and cook the hare, seasoning with salt and pepper, until browned and sealed on the outside. Remove the hare once browned and put to the side on a deep dish or bowl to catch the juices that are released while it is resting.
Now, add the carrot, leek, shallot and garlic to the braising pot over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Return the hare and juices to the pot on top of the vegetables, then add the potatoes, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Pour over the pinot grape juice and add the grated nutmeg. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a rolling simmer. Cover with a lid.
Check the hare every hour to make sure it is not catching on the base and that is a rolling simmer, not boiling.
The hare should be ready in 3–5 hours, depending on the age and sex of the hare. Add the chestnuts about 30 minutes before ready to serve.
To eat, simply serve out of the pot with chunks of good crusty bread.
• If you cannot get fresh pinot juice then use a 50/50 ratio of red wine to chicken stock or water.
• To peel chestnuts, score 400 g whole chestnuts top and base with a knife. Roast at 180°C for 10–15 minutes, or until the skin splits. Cool slightly then peel off the outer and inner skin.