Hasenpfeffer with Semolina Dumplings
While hasenpfeffer should properly be made with hare (snowshoe or jackrabbit in the United States), hares are notoriously hard to find if you are not a hunter. So do what everyone else does and make it with rabbit. The actual making of the dish is pretty easy, but it will be far better if you give it the 2-3 days’ worth of marinating time. Marinades take a long time to penetrate meat, and the flavorful marinade is the heart of hasenpfeffer.
Nothing in this recipe is difficult to find, with the possible exception of juniper berries. Juniper is used so often in wild game dishes that if you are a hunter, you really need a constant supply. You can either pick them yourself, find them in a large supermarket, or order juniper berries online.
Once made, hasenpfeffer lasts a week in the fridge.
Serves 4 to 6.
Prep Time: 2 days marinating time
Cook Time: 3 hours, although shorter with domestic rabbits
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
1 tablespoon crack black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 green onions, chopped
1 jackrabbit, snowshoe hare or domestic rabbit, or 2 cottontails or squirrels
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Flour for dredging
2 to 3 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons semolina flour (or use farina or Cream of Wheat)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Bring all the ingredients for the marinade to a boil, then let cool to room temperature. While the marinade is cooling, cut up a hare into serving pieces. Find a covered container (plastic, ceramic, glass) just about large enough to hold the cut-up hare and put the meat inside. Cover with the cooled marinade. If you have leftover marinade, put that into a different container. Put everything in the refrigerator and let it sit at least 8 hours, but 2 days is better.
2. When you are ready to make the hasenpfeffer, remove the hare from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Save the marinade. Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Dredge the hare in the flour and brown well on all sides in the butter. Do this over medium to medium-high heat so the butter does not burn. Remove the hare pieces as they brown and set aside.
3. As the hare is browning, preheat the oven to 325°F and strain the marinade into a bowl. Add any excess marinade to the bowl.
Once you’ve browned the hare, add the onion and stir to coat with the butter. If there is not much butter in the pot left, add another tablespoon or two. Cook the onions over medium-high heat until they are soft and a little brown on the edges. Sprinkle salt over them as they cook.
4. Return the hare to the pot and add the strained marinade. Bring to a simmer, cover and put into the oven. Cook at a gentle simmer until the meat wants to fall off the bones: This will take 2 to 4 hours for a wild hare, or between 90 minutes and 2 hours for a domesticated rabbit. To finish the hasenpfeffer, remove it from the oven and uncover the pot. Spoon off about a cup of the sauce and put it into a bowl. Add the sour cream to the bowl and mix to combine. Return the mixture to the pot and swirl it around to combine. Serve at once with the dumplings.
1. Once the hasenpfeffer has cooked for an hour or two, make the dumpling dough. Heat the milk to the steaming point and add the butter and salt. Start stirring the milk with one hand while you sprinkle in the semolina with the other. Stir well until the semolina absorbs the milk and forms a stiff dough. Take the pot off the heat and let the dough cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. once it boils, turn off the heat until the hare is done.
2. When the hasenpfeffer is ready, turn the heat off the oven but leave everything inside. Now it’s time to finish the dumplings. Mix the egg and nutmeg into the semolina dough. Let the dough stand while you bring your pot of salty water back to a boil, which won’t take long because you preheated it. Get a bowl of water ready — this is to wet your hands so the dumpling dough doesn’t stick to them.
3. Roll the dough into balls however large you want. I like rough tablespoons, or dumplings the size of a walnut. As you make them, drop each one into the boiling water. Do not crowd the pot. Once the dumplings start bobbing on the surface, let them cook another 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how soft you like them. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.