As the name suggests, this very old (1700s) British recipe traditionally calls for hare, although at least one version I've found states that "other game can be used in this dish, but remember that whatever it is it should be hung for some days in a cool room prior to cooking."(1) I think it's fair to say that the really important principle here is the hanging, since any small animal which has been killed and then hung on a nail for a few days after its demise will quickly acquire a distinctive 'gamey' flavour.

To clear up any uncertainty early on: a hare is very much like a rabbit, with the essential difference that it's not one. The term 'jugged' refers to the fact that the ingredients are "combined in a casserole (traditionally a heatproof crock or jug). "(2)

 

Ok, let's look at the ingredients. We'll be making enough here for your 4 worst enemies.

Ingredients

  • 1 young hare of about 4 1/2 lbs (2.041166 kg, 1575 apothecaries scruples), along with its blood and liver. Be sure to check your hare for blood. Don't panic if it's been mysteriously drained of the vital red elixir though: "If there is no blood in the hare, ask the butcher for a cup of calf's blood."(1)
  • 1 1/2 lbs (0.6803886 kg, 437.5 Troy pennyweights) of bones, origin not specified. Use whatever skeletal remains you can lay your hands on I guess, although perhaps fish bones would somewhat upset the delicate balance of flavours we're hoping to achieve here.
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 UK pints (4.128236 US pints, 461.1657 teaspoons) of cold water
  • 1 glass of port
  • 1 pinch of mace
  • Mixed herbs
  • White flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fat for frying

Preparation

NOTE: I have been obliged to copy and paste some of the preparation instructions from the source indicated, because in terms of sheer elegance I simply couldn't improve upon them. Fair use, and all that.

  1. "Remove the inside from the hare, being careful to save the thick blood."(3) As noted above, if your hare turns out to be blood-free, you'll need a cup of calf's blood.
  2. Next, after carefully skinning the hare, you'll need to wipe it and cut it into joints. Set these aside.
  3. Next, "wash the head, heart, and liver in some cold salted water, put in the saucepan with the blood and the bones, which have also been washed."(3) Do be sure to wash those bones really well. You don't want anything unpleasant getting in there with the little head, the heart, the liver, and the blood.
  4. Add the cold water to the assembled gore along with a teaspoon of salt, and bring the whole bloody mess to the boil. Remove the scum, then add the herbs tied up in a piece of muslin along with the pepper and the mace.
  5. Scrape and wash the carrot, peel the onion and stick the cloves into it, then add the vegetables to the saucepan. Simmer for three to four hours, skimming the surface occasionally to remove the accumulated hare's grease.
  6. When the stock in the saucepan is nearly done simmering, sprinkle flour on the hare joints and fry them in the fat until they're browned. Place the browned joints in a casserole or 'jug'.
  7. Mix a little of the flour with water to form a paste, and when the stock is done strain it into another saucepan and add the paste. Boil the mixture stirring all the time until it thickens.
  8. "Strain the gravy over the fried hare, the hair should be just covered,"(3) it says here. Spelling mistake? Macabre detail? You decide.
  9. Dump the whole thing into a moderately hot oven, cover, and cook for two hours. Just before serving, add the port.
  10. Dish up the hare with some of the gravy spread around it, and serve the rest of the liquid separately. Serve with redcurrant jelly.

And that's it! There's no need to thank me. Just enjoy your lovely meal.

sneff says: Hares and rabbits may both have big ears, own a fluffy coat, and hop around a bit - but when it comes to the cooking pot - hares are another beast entirely. They are incredibly muscular - the hanging part is not so much to get rancid flavours on the plate - but to tenderize a possibly tough and muscular wild hare of indeterminate age. Most rabbits however, are farmed - and thus have (comparitively) tender meat. A few hours of jugging will leave bugs dry and stringy.

Ouroboros confirms: the cool room keeps actual rot at bay. even a beef carcass (or standing roast) is improved by 'aging', during which the sinew and muscle mass deteriorate and become more tender.

Sources:
(1) http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/hotel_claravallis/jugged.htm
(2) http://eat.epicurious.com/dictionary/food/index.ssf?DEF_ID=2335
(3) http://www.recipesource.com/main-dishes/meat/rabbit/00/rec0013.html

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