Hare and juniper pasties with pickled girolles
I serve these pasties with a mulled quince chutney – they’re a great combination with the pickled girolles, and really cut through the richness of the hare. You can make these smaller and serve them as a canapé.

Ingredients: Makes 8 pasties

For the shortcrust pastry
400g plain flour
300g butter
100g lard1 egg
Marjoram or sage

For the hare
2 skinned and oven ready hares
3 white onions (peeled)
4 carrots (peeled)
1 leek
2 large potatoes (peeled)
4 sticks celery
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 litre chicken stock
1 glass Madeira
1 tsp crushed juniper berries
100g butter
100g plain flour
Bunch of flat parsley
2 egg yolks
Sesame seeds (optional)

For the pickled mushrooms
150g girolle mushrooms
100ml white wine vinegar
2 shallots (finely sliced)
1 tsp pink peppercorns
1 tbsp sugar
Salad leaves
8 slices of cured air-dried ham

1. To make the pastry, sieve the flour into a mixer with the beater attached, add the fat and mix until you have a fine crumb. Add the egg, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of chopped marjoram or sage. Bring the pastry together, adding a little cold water if too dry. Clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least two hours.

2. To pickle the mushrooms: boil the vinegar, shallots, pink peppercorns, sugar, one bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. Remove from heat, cool and then pour over the mushrooms, season with a little salt, place in an airtight container and store until needed. I put them into Le Parfait jars.

3. To braise the hares: place them in a large ovenproof dish, chop all the vegetables into even-sized pieces (about 2cm) and add to the hares (except the potatoes; reserve these for later). Heat the stock and Madeira together and pour over the hares, add sprigs of thyme, the juniper and the bay. Grind a generous amount of black pepper over, then cover with tinfoil and place in an oven at 150°C for about three to four hours depending on the size of hares. You can tell when they are cooked as the meat should fall off the leg bones.

4. Strain off the cooking liquor into a saucepan, add the diced potato, then reduce by about two-thirds. Blend the butter and flour to a paste to form a beurre manié. Use this to thicken the hare sauce, adding a knob at a time and whisking in. Cook until a gravy consistency is reached, remove from the heat and add the rest of vegetables from the hare. Pick the meat from the hare while still warm and place in a bowl, pour the vegetables and sauce over the hare meat, chop some parsley and add to the hare mix. Combine all the ingredients, add a little more crushed juniper and check the seasoning.

5. Roll the pastry out and cut round a saucer or side plate (depending on how big you want your pasties to be), place some hare mix in the centre, brush a little egg yolk on the edge and bring the sides up together. Crimp the pastry and brush the outside of the pasty with the egg yolk. You can sprinkle some sesame seeds on at this point if you wish. Rest for 20 minutes – or you could make them the day before and store them in the fridge. Bake the pasty at 180°C until the pastry is golden brown.

6. Serve the pasty hot with the pickled girolles and some salad leaves – the mushrooms are best slightly warmed through.

PUBLISHED :October 2013
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