Rich, dark game meat, perfect for stews and roasts
The hare is perhaps more famed for its affinity with folklore than its culinary virtues (though those are many), popping up in myths as a trickster or shape-shifter, associated with witchcraft, fertility, and madness. To be “mad as a March hare” was a thing long before Lewis Caroll’s delightfully demented March Hare sprang to life. If you’ve ever been lucky (and quick) enough to see a wild hare in the springtime, you’ll know where the saying comes from: during breeding season, which typically peaks in March for the common brown hare, they appear to go a bit, well, mad, hopping up and down and ‘boxing’ each other.
March is also about the only time of year that hare tends to be unavailable—though technically there’s no closed season, it “isn’t shot year-round,” chef and Borough regular Tim Maddams explains. “In the spring, most female hares are pregnant.” Best to make the most of delicious, yet often-overlooked game meat now then, when cold, dark evenings call for warming stews and roasts.
“Hare is delicious to eat,” Tim continues. “A whole hare is a big animal, too—enough to feed four people twice over.” While in the same family as rabbit, the flavour of hare meat is incomparable. “The only thing they have in common is they are scientifically categorised in the same group. Hare is more like venison than anything else—it’s rich and dark, with an incredible sweetness to it. The depth of flavour is beyond compare.”
A flavoursome gravy
When cooking hare, each cut deserves individual attention. “Saddles are prime for roasting with garlic and best served a little pink,” Tim advises. If you’ve the stomach for it, the blood is traditionally used as a thickening agent to make a flavoursome gravy with the stewing juices. “While I think stewing is a waste when it comes to saddle meat, it’s a great way to serve leg and shoulders, perhaps with some bay leaves, plenty of garlic and a few chilli flakes. Use any offal that’s in good condition too.”
Alternatively, simply cook the legs and shoulders slowly in plenty of butter, until the meat falls from the bones tender as you like. “It’s ideal for gnocchi or pasta dishes. I’m a big fan.”