I am a would be Electrical Engineer who studied Mechanical and Production Engineering at what is now the University of Central Lancashire. I ended up working as a Production Engineer in a couple of aircraft companies before moving on to the production of telephones for a large telephone and telephone exchange manufacturer. At this point I then decided upon a change and became a computer programmer.
I joined the now extinct IT company, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), on one of their graduate programmes. One of the biggest problems in the IT industry in particular and in the bespoke manufacturing industry in general, is actually understanding then building what the client really wants. For that of course you have to really understand just what the client is asking for….. you have to understand him and his business.
EDS had the ludicrous idea of not hiring IT specialists, but rather graduates in other fields who would be better able to understand the client requirements. What a silly idea right? They hired doctors, finance graduates, chemists, biologists and even mechanical and production engineers. I was put to work understanding the client requirements at the car production plant of Opel España.
Unfortunately modern IT companies tend to hire IT graduates, then they wonder why the client complains that they haven’t received what they asked for!
We had to learn programming of course, we had to build what the client was asking for. For that we were put on a three month intensive course in Dallas, Texas. The standards and the pressure were high, some would say too high, but at the end of the three months the course churned out some very good programmers.
All this is a rather long way to say that I met a German lady called Ursula in Dallas. Some 25 years later we are still friends and today’s recipe is one she sent me. I have spent quite some time in Germany working for Adam Opel A.G. and we met up again there. I got to know her husband and they have also come over to see us here in Spain. The recipe I will be sharing with you today comes from them, so thanks to both of you for another great recipe!
All in all I have travelled much in Germany due to work. I have been in the more industrial areas like Bochum or Dusseldorf. I have been to the historical and picturesque town of Heidelberg. I have even been to Berlin, before the wall fell and I crossed through the famous Checkpoint Charlie.
To this day I am not sure what we actually did wrong at the crossing. I wasn’t driving and was looking more at what was going on around us than where we were actually going..….. be that as it may, we somehow jumped the queue and found ourselves in East Berlin, without any East German marks! We ended up paying for everything with what we had, West German marks!
It wasn’t until afterwards that we started to realise why we were treated like royalty during our short visit to East Berlin. The exchange rate at the time was about 10 to 1, i.e. a West German mark was work 10 East German marks. Of course they were happy to see us part with our money, we were paying 10 times the value for the goods we bought! We started to notice the waiters in bars or restaurants pocketing our West German bank notes and putting the equivalent numerical value in East German notes into the till!
So why this recipe this week? Well apart from allowing me to reminisce on my visits to Germany, we are also into the hunting season and this is a delicious recipe for hare. Many butchers now sell hare, but if you can get it freshly caught in the wild, all the better. As with all food taking naturally from the wild, you will probably find it tastier and far less likely to have been raised or fattened on artificial feed.
Hasenkeule in Rahmsauce (Hare in Cream Sauce)
75g Streaky bacon
8 Dried bay leaves (to crush)
4 Hare legs
10 Juniper berries
2 Dried bay leaves
250ml Dry red wine
1 tbsp Cornflour
This is a one pot dish, so use a saucepan just large enough to hold the hare legs.
Dice the bacon.
Melt a little lard in a saucepan and fry the bacon.
Meanwhile chop the onion and add into the pan when the bacon is just starting to brown.
Meanwhile take the first 8 bay leaves and crush as fine as possible. I use a small blender to get it nice and fine, alternatively some shops sell bay leaf powder.
Season the legs on both sides with salt and pepper then dust with the crushed bay leaves.
Add the legs into the pan with the remaining 2 bay leaves and the juniper berries.
Cover and cook for around 30 minutes, turning the legs over after 15 minutes..
Add in the red wine and stew for another 40 minutes to an hour, again turning over half way through. If using a wild hare it will take nearer to an hour to cook through. Take out of the pan and test, the meat should just be coming off the bone. If the hare is not done put it back in the pan for a few more minutes.
If the wine starts to evaporate during the cooking, just add in a little water. The pan should never become dry.
Remove the hare legs then strain the sauce. Put the legs under a warm grill to keep warm.
Put the sauce back in the pan.
Mix the cornflour with a little cold water then add into the sauce to thicken.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
Serve with the cream sauce poured over the legs.
Although this recipe is for hare, it would work equally well for any other strong flavoured game or meat. If you want to give it a try just use whatever you have available.
Although the recipe serves four, the photographs reflect the last time I cooked the dish and as there were just the two of us, I only cooked two legs!
Two other German recipes that also came from Ursula:
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge