I’ll start by saying I wouldn’t normally eat hare, as not only are they magnificent animals but their numbers are on the decline in the UK. Nor are they are particularly easy to get your hands on, compared to the ubiquitous rabbit. This recipe, served with saffron rice, works equally well for rabbit.
I’m very fortunate to have a large population of hares on my farm and enjoy seeing them charge around the fields, especially in late winter and early spring when they begin their courtship rituals. A female boxing away a would-be male suitor is a common sight. I’ve even seen a hare throw a few punches at a rook. As always, at moments like that my camera wasn’t with me.
Anyway, a local game keeper had kindly given me a hare and it had been in my freezer waiting for the perfect dish to do it justice. A campfire in the woods seemed the appropriate setting…
Some Preliminary Campcraft
To cook this dish I was going to use a Dutch oven and so required a sturdy pot hanger to suspend it over the fire. A hazel tripod seemed the most suitable solution so off I went in search of this common hedgerow tree.
I needed three sturdy upright poles for the legs and one long length with a fork at the thickest end (close to the base of the tree). The thin end of this long branch, no thicker than your thumb, needs to be twisted to create a withy, which will bind the three legs at the top creating a tripod. The ‘tick’ end of this length, where the branch forks, will be the hook that the dutch oven hangs from. This needs to the thick enough to support the weight of what you are going to hang from it.
Twist the length of hazel until you hear that recognisable ‘pop’ as the fibers separate and allow it to become flexible, once you have a suitable length twisted you can cut the branch off the tree. Doing it the other way around is much trickier, trust me!
Tidy up the hook end before adding it to the tripod. Then create a clove hitch with the withy and place it over the tripod legs, pull tight and arrange the hook end of the hanger to fall between the legs. To adjust the height of the pot, all you need to do is move the legs in or out. Simple and elegant.
Note, the top of the legs is a great place to hang your mug when not in use, you’ll always know where it is and it doesn’t get full of leaf litter from the woodland floor.
Hare or Rabbit Curry Ingredients
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic paste
- 2 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and chilli powder
- 2 tins of plum tomatoes
- either 1 hare or 2 rabbits, jointed and de-boned
- 1 tsp garam masala
- salt and pepper to season
Hare or Rabbit Curry – Method
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and add the cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf, fry for a minute.
Next, add the onions and garlic and ginger paste, along with a generous pinch of salt and cook until soft.
Add all other spices, except the garam masala, and cook for a few minutes until their aromas are released.
Then add tomatoes and rabbit or hare meat along with just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and then cook gently on embers for around 45 minutes to an hour, basically until the meat is tender. Stir it regularly.
Once the meat is tender add the garam masala and season to taste.
Serve with rice and or a nice naan bread. I cooked up some saffron rice with mine in an additional billy can, manage your fire correctly and you can time it right so that both the curry and rice are ready at the same time.