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Recipes: Hares Make Fine Winter Fare
Hunting season is over across most of the state for big game and waterfowl. But there is still small game, and Alaska’s snowshoe and Arctic hares are fine fare in winter.
To field dress a hare, cut off the head. Break the feet at the ankle joints and cut them off. Pinch the skin on the rabbit’s back and pull it so you can cut through the skin, cutting across the back. Hold the hide and pull the skin away in opposite directions, peeling it completely off. Remove the tail. Cut the abdomen open – be careful not to cut into the entrails – grab the heart and lung portion of the viscera and pull backwards, removing all the entrails. Clean out all blood and blood clots under running water.
Depending on how you plan to prepare the hare, you may wish to cut it into five pieces – the blackstrap, the two forequarters (right and left ribs and legs) and the two
hindquarters. Like chicken, a whole hare will take longer to cook than a hare that is cut in pieces.
Hares can be fried or baked. When frying hare care must be taken to make sure the meat is not tough. There are two ways to do this. The first is to coat the pieces with corn meal or flour, as you would chicken. Brown it lightly, then reduce the heat and cover the pan, simmering until it’s tender. This provides a moist coating, but takes a little longer. For a crisp coating and shorter cooking time, first boil the hare until it’s almost tender. Pat the pieces dry, roll them in corn meal or flour and fry them as you would chicken.
To see if hare is done, pierce it with a fork. You should be able to insert the fork with ease, and the juices should run clear. Hare is thoroughly cooked when it is no longer pink inside. If you use a meat thermometer, hare is done when a thermometer inserted in the meatiest part reads 180°F (82.2°C)
For roasted hare, rub surfaces with onion, garlic, and lemon. Place on a greased rack in a shallow pan. Brush generously with melted butter and cover loosely with foil. Roast at 325 degrees for 1 to 2 hours. Remove foil during last 1/2 hour to brown.
Hare can also be slow cooked in a Dutch oven, large covered pot, or a crock-pot. The pieces of meat can be seared first in hot fat, using the Dutch oven on the stovetop. Before baking, add liquid, either several cups of hot water, condensed soup mix or red wine. Vegetables may also be added as desired. Bake at 325 for about 2 hours, depending on the size of the pieces.
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