Peppered Hare Saddle Fillets with Blackcurrants and Matagouri Honey

11:30 am on 6 October 2014

The species of hare introduced to New Zealand was the European brown hare, an outstanding and sought-after game. The hare saddle provides a delicacy unknown to most; it is an esteemed item on many of the world’s best restaurant menus and priced accordingly. And yet many farmers I talk to have never bothered to keep a hare, let alone remove the hare saddle fillets.

Matagouri is a spiny plant that grows along many New Zealand riverbeds. It has long, skewer-sharp spines and adds at least a ten minute tangle to any fly fisherman who misjudges his cast. It has most likely contributed some interesting dialogue to the New Zealand angler’s vocabulary. This native plant is also protected; I was unaware until recently that bees produce honey from the flowers of this tough river shrub, so I am delighted to discover that this rogue native gives us something back!
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Peppered Hare Tony Smith4 hare back fillets
  • black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 rounded teaspoons matagouri
  • honey or other wild honey
  • 3 tablespoons blackcurrants or
  • wild blackberries
  • 100ml water
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gravy mix

Method

If required, debone the hare. Trim the fine skin from the fillets, season generously with black pepper and place in a stainless-steel or ceramic container. Add the wine and sprinkle over the oil, and set aside until ready to cook and serve. This can be prepared a day or morning ahead.

Preheat the oven to 120ºC.

Heat a little oil into a frying pan and add the fillets. Adjust the heat so that you can keep the meat frying for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep warm in the oven. Add the shallots to the pan, then the honey and blackcurrants.

Cook a little and add the water. Simmer a little and add the gravy mix mixed in a tablespoon of water. Adjust the seasoning.

Cut the hare fillets into long thin slices and serve with the sauce.

Serve with a potato dish such as the potatoes braised with leeks.

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