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Sauce grand veneur for hare

11 September 2006

INGREDIENTS

(makes about 350ml)

(enough for 6 to 10 portions, according to the style of dish)

For the marinade 500ml red wine (eg, Côte du Rhône, Tempranillo)
100ml sherry vinegar
30ml Cognac
40g diced onion
20g diced carrot
20g diced leek
4 bay leaves
6 juniper berries
Sprigs fresh thyme
Parsley stalks
2 hare hind legs

For the sauce 40ml sunflower oil
50g diced onion, carrot, leek
50g fresh tomato purée (or about 20g tinned)
1 sprig elderberries
1tsp green peppercorns
1 heaped teaspoon redcurrant jelly
6 juniper berries
30-40ml (about 3tbs) double cream
Salt

METHOD

Put all the marinade ingredients in a container so that the pieces of hare are completely immersed. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Take the legs out of the marinade. Cut off the "drumsticks". Bone out the thighs: cut down the muscle over the bones, scrape around them. Put the tip of the filleting knife under the bone and cut it away from the flesh. Reserve the thigh meat for terrines or the hare galantine.

Strain the marinade through a hair sieve into a clean pan. Bring to the boil. Skim thoroughly. Leave to reduce on the side of the range for not more than 30 minutes. There should be about 400ml of liquid left.

Heat the oil in a sauteuse or similar pan, almost to smoking point. Add the bones, hare drumsticks and diced vegetables. Brown thoroughly on all sides. (This is an important stage and chefs often fail to colour bones and meat sufficiently for sauces.) Add the tomato purée. Mix it thoroughly with the meat, scraping any sediment off the bottom of the pan so that it doesn't burn.

Add the elderberries and peppercorns. Strain the cooked marinade over the bones. Bring to the boil and leave to reduce at simmering point for about 20 minutes. The pieces of hare are actually cooking in the liquor and transferring their flavour to it.

Through a fine-meshed chinois or sieve, strain the liquor into a clean pan. Don't press the solids (bones, meat, vegetable debris) or the shine on the sauce won't be as bright. Add the redcurrant jelly and juniper berries. Boil until thoroughly dissolved. Add the cream, bring back to the boil. Taste for salt, but don't add any more pepper.

The sauce is cooked now. It shouldn't be boiled again, but is not ready to serve - it needs to settle first. Two things happen. One, it develops extra body, not so much thickening as gaining a more velvety texture. Two, the flavours amalgamate better - like a wine that has been left to breathe.

When served, the sauce should not be boiling hot. If it's kept at bain-marie temperature and spooned on to a hot plate, it will be an ideal temperature when eaten.

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