Food 2020 – Recipes (Pappardelle with Hare, Red Wine and Cacao Ragù)

Sunday 11th October, 2020 – Recipes (Pappardelle with Hare, Red Wine and Cacao Ragù)

I will always buy hare when I can lay hands on it, and in addition to making a splendid jugged hare recipe, I’m keen to do other thing with what can be a somewhat overpowering meat if you don’t treat it correctly.

After the Wild Meat Company emailed to say they now had hare on sale, I was in there like a shot. To my further delight, while digging around on their site, I found a recipe from one of the best Italian chefs I know, the splendid Giorgio Locatelli.

This, then is his recipe for a ragu to go with pappardelle pasta, a hare, red wine and cacao ragù. To be honest it should probably be listed with the red wine first, because it does use two whole bottles. I had to read the recipe twice to check that it genuinely did need two bottle of red, and yes, it does, but if you like northern Italian-style food and you like game, it will be well worth it. The end result will be deep, dark, autumnal like an all-enveloping hug. And given the source, the two bottles of wine probably shouldn’t surprise me; Giorgio is not a man to use a glass of wine when he can use a bottle (see his fabulous Ragù alla Bolognese recipe which uses one whole bottle), so why not two?

Pappardelle with Hare, Red Wine and Cacao Ragù

Serves: 4 people
Time: 3 hours or more


For the marinade:
  • 1 bottle Chianti or other full-bodied red wine
  • 1 carrot, roughly choppe
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove
For the ragù:
  • 1 hare, cut into 12 pieces
  • 50g plain flour
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 juniper berries, crushed to a paste
  • 1 bottle Chianti or other full-bodied red wine
  • 1 litre good chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 10g 90–100% cacao, grated
  • 600–800g fresh pappardelle
  • A little butter


  1. Ask your butcher to cut the hare for you, following the joints and taking care not to smash the bones, in case they splinter.
  2. Put the hare into a bowl. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and pour over the meat. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours.
  3. When you are ready to cook, remove the hare from the marinade and keep the meat to one side.
  4. Bring the marinade to the boil in a pan, then take off the heat and pass through a fine sieve into a bowl.
  5. Have the flour ready in a shallow bowl. Pat the pieces of hare dry and season them, then dust in the flour.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the hare and colour on all sides, taking care not to burn the flour, then lift out and keep to one side.
  7. Put the chopped vegetables and juniper berry paste into the pan and cook gently until soft.
  8. Pour in the Chianti and allow to bubble up to evaporate the alcohol, reduce the liquid by half.
  9. Put the hare back in the pan and add the reserved marinade and enough chicken stock to cover. Add the bay leaf and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, stir in half the cacao and simmer for 2 hours.
  10. Take out the hare, let it cool enough to be able to handle the pieces, and strip the meat from the bones. Keep to one side.
  11. Reduce the cooking liquid to a sauce consistency, then return the hare meat to the pan.
  12. Cook the pappardelle in plenty of boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes (if using dried pasta check the timing on the packet).
  13. Drain, reserving the cooking water, and toss through the hare ragù, adding a touch of butter if you like, plus a little of the water to loosen.
  14. Finish with the rest of the grated cacao.

We ate the first portions for dinner with home made wild garlic tagliatelle and a good drift of grated Parmesan and I can tell you that on a cold Autumn night it hit the spot beautifully!

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