Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Jugging Hare

Still busy working lots and messing about outdoors relatively little. However, a while back we managed a morning duck hunt followed by a walk for quail. While on that quail hunt, a fine black-tailed jackrabbit jumped up beside me and took off to the rear. I had just been talking to someone about the fact that I'd been intending to try eating a jackrabbit for some time using one of the many European hare recipes, so as soon as this guy hit the top of a leap and before he got too far out, I gave him the top barrel, trying for mostly head.

Once back home, we skinned and dressed the fairly large buck jack rabbit. Abandoning a chance at true authenticity, I failed to save the blood for thickening my sauce. Nonetheless, I marinated the legs over night in red wine, onion, and herbs in a combination of the recipes from The River Cottage Cookbook and Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast. The saddles I boned out, yielding a surprising amount of meat in two fillets.

I browned the legs and then set them in the oven for a long braise with wine, stock and mirepoix. I then deboned the meat and reduced the sauce before returning the meat to it, again following Fearnley-Whittingstall and Henderson for the most part.





The saddle fillets I rubbed with a bit of salt and cracked black pepper, then seared in a hot cast iron skillet and rested in a warm oven, making a quick red wine sauce (not quite bordelaise, lacking demi-glace) in the same skillet. We accompanied all this with braised red cabbage, mashed parsnips, and crispy roasted potato wedges. Hare 2 ways:



So, how was it? Very good- surprisingly sweet and somewhat reminiscent of mourning dove. I was a bit concerned while dressing out the jack- he was a big one and smelled quite strong. None of that could be found in the final result, with the saddles providing the most distinct flavor but still quite mild. Also, there was a surprising amount of meat on him- I'll take the occasional jack in the future as more than an experiment. Definitely worth a try for a winter evening's meal or three.

9 comments:

Chas Clifton said...

Maybe it's the lack of fat, but I find that jackrabbit, while good, wears out my palette quickly. Sometimes they just end up in a big pot of chile.

Gary Thompson said...

Looks like a fine European meal. I've found quite few Mediterainian dishes for hare's that I enjoy. Olives and figs, how can that go wrong?

mdmnm said...

ChasMH Salmon once wrote that considered that jackrabbit is the most authentic meat for green chile stew, being readily available and suited for stewing. I can see it working well in either red or green.

Gary- Mediterranean style hare sounds very good; clearly, more jackrabbits & experimentation are in order!

Jenna said...

Hello-

Does anyone know if there are any disease related reason to not eat rabbit? Domestic or wild? I have always wanted to try rabbit, and where I live is always open season on them, but I has heard they were not safe to eat, is this just some craziness old wives tale?

mdmnm said...

Jenna,
I'd imagine people are warning you of tuleramia, which can be present in wild rabbits. You might want to be cautious about any rabbits that appear diseased, and wearing latex gloves while field dressing rabbits is probably a good idea, but I'd encourage you to give both rabbit and hare a try. Both are plentiful and delicious and, out of many, many rabbits I and my family have dressed and eaten, we've never had a problem.

Steve Bodio said...

I am surprised (esp considering we often pair them with wild mushrooms) we never cooked one for you! Search on our blog should come up with a good Italian one.

Chas- fillet out those loins, a bit of a rub or brief marinade, grill hot and RARE unlike the rest...

Trout Caviar said...

I'm late to say: That hare looks fantastic. Hope all is well~ Brett

EcoRover said...

Wow, I've eaten snowshoe rabbits (hares, really) but never considered eating sagebrush jacks. Sounds good. Had pig's blood the other night, somehow congealed into a sort of tofu look & consistency (thought I was ordering tofu when I pointed to it) and stirfry--not bad though the feel in my mouth was downright creepy.

EcoRover said...

@ Jenna: growing up in the Alleghenies where we hunted cottontail and snowshoe rabbits with hounds, and ate 50 or more of them each year, the folk wisdom was don't hunt them before the first hard frost. A cold night killed the diseased rabbits. I have shot them and found white spots on the liver, which is supposed to be a sign of tularemia. I have also shot a number of rabbits with various weird diseases and many of them have serious tapeworm infestations--you can watch the entrails crawl around after you gut them--but as long as they are well cooked there should be no trouble with parasites.

That said, I haven't eaten a rabbit in years given a freezer full of elk and antelope and deer etc.