Hare ragout makes a meal in March. Serve with pappardelle pasta and parmesan to lighten the flavour.

Hare ragout can pack a game laden punch, and is as rich as a Chelsea Russian. Lighten the taste by making a hare ragout with lashings of parmesan and white wine. The Italian elements of the dish make it one of our supremely edible recipes, and serving it with pappardelle pasta will feed a crowd and make converts. For more Italian game recipes try the following…

HARE RAGOUT WITH PAPPARDELLE PASTA

Serves 12
■ 12 hare haunches (defrosted)
■ Salt
■ 5 tbsp olive oil
■ 6 sticks celery
■ 3 white onions
■ 6 cloves garlic
■ 6 sprigs thyme
■ 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
■ 8 juniper berries, crushed
■ 6 cloves, crushed
■ 2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
■ 600ml (21fl oz) dry white wine
■ 1kg (2.2lb) pappardelle pasta
■ 100g (31⁄2oz) salted butter
■ 75g (3oz) pinenuts, toasted
■ 200g (7oz) rocket, chopped
■ 150g (5oz) parmesan, grated
Although hare can be regarded as a strong meat, cooking it with white wine and serving it with buttery pasta and parmesan lightens the flavour of this hare ragout. I have found that once people have tried this dish they are hare converts.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 21⁄2.
To make the hare ragout, season the hare with salt then sear in batches in a frying pan using four tablespoons of the olive oil. Transfer the hare to a large roasting dish.
Finely chop the celery, onions and garlic; fry them in the same pan using the rest of the olive oil (you don’t need to soften the vegetables, only lightly caramelise them). Once they have started to take on a little colour, add the herbs and spices and the wine.
Pour all of this on to the hare, cover with baking parchment and tightly seal with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for three to four hours, or until the hare is tender and falling off the bone.
Remove from the oven and take off the foil and parchment.
When cool enough to handle, carefully pull all the meat off the bones. Stir the shredded meat back into the cooked vegetables and sauce.
When you are ready to eat, heat the hare ragout until piping hot and cook the pasta until al dente then drain. Mix in the butter. Stir the hot hare ragout into the cooked pasta and add most of the pinenuts, rocket and parmesan.
Once plated, scatter on the remaining parmesan, pinenuts and rocket.