Westchester Foodie’s dinner with Mr. Henderson

The very affable David over at Westchester Foodie shot me a note mentioning that he had recently took part in FergusStock. Every year Mr. Henderson makes his way across the pond to do a guest chef stint over here on American soil.

Finally, after four years, I made it to FergusStock. Though The Breslin lacks the spare, white walls and abattoir feel of the original St. John in London, it made a worthy host of Chef Henderson’s nose to tail cooking. The ability to have the food I love and miss from St. John, coupled with April Bloomfield’s fantastic, ideologically similar dishes was a plethora of riches.

Head on over and check out all the goodies Mr. Henderson has brought to our shores!

Jugged Hare

The hare’s blood is vital for this dish, so if you are not gutting the beast yourself, ask your butcher to make sure they reserved any blood.  It is important to mix a small splash of red wine vinegar into the blood as soon as possible to prevent its curdling, something I am sure the butcher will do for you if you are there at the moment of gutting and chopping.

This recipe was easily one of the standouts of the 24-hour cookathon. I totally understand that a blood-based sauce might not be for everyone, but for those of us who know the luxurious wonders of boudin noir or black pudding it’s a no-brainer.  Rich, velvety bliss awaited…


The recipe kicks off asking for a mixture of flour, mace, cloves and allspice to roll the chunks of rabbit in before frying.  Freshly-ground spices are always preferred to a store bought grind, and I really wanted to impress the  folks that had rsvp’d to lend a hand during the event. You can see that mixture below to the left.  I figured a straight on shot of flour might be a little too boring.


A quick prep of red onions, carrots, celery, leeks and a bouquet garni were finished in quick fashion…


…as was the sectioning of the hare. I accidentally cracked the plastic cutting board with the heavy chinese cleaver I picked up a few years back. Maybe it’s time to invest in a real butchers block.


Each piece of hare was tossed in the spiced flour mixture just before going into the pan of melted butter.  Mr. Henderson specifically mentions doing it in this fashion to keep the flour from “globulating”.  Nobody wants to deal with a bit of encapsulated flour in their mouth, so I willfully followed his instructions.


When the rabbit had properly browned, I moved the prepped veggies into the same pan to soften and slightly brown.


Back in went the hare along with the herbs, a few cloves of garlic, some red wine and a little chicken stock. The whole pan was then placed in a lowly heated oven for a few hours to braise.


While the hare cooked, Paul C. of Xesla Research Organisation, Jennie Chen of MisoHungry and John Knox of Hop Safari arrived to prop me up as I wandered around the kitchen in a sleep-deprived state. These guys are my heroes.


Here’s another badass: Chef David Holtzman. This man went above and beyond the call of duty and made jaw dropping dish after dish.  He made puff pastry BY HAND for criminy! In this picture, he’s making Joël Robuchon’s pommes purée. They were so outlandishly good that by consensus we ended up nicknaming them “God’s potatoes”.


A lovely smell was slowly intensifying, filling the kitchen as we all worked on other dishes. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the timer to chime.  This is what greeted us.


The steaming hare sections were removed…


…and the pan liquor strained to remove the veggies and other food particles. The hare and liquor returned to the pan to cool for a little while.


This picture of David’s potatoes was so good I just had to post it.  You can see the fine texture of the puree, along with that tell-tell sign of slightly transparent deposits of butter here and there.  David mentioned that this was more an emulsion of butter and potatoes than anything.  They sure tasted that way.


To make the blood sauce I drained some of the pan liquor and transferred it to another pot.  Gentle heat was applied until the addition of port wine, and then the spurs were applied to boil off the alcohol.


Confession time: I did not use hare’s blood. I’m sorry, but despite my best efforts I just wasn’t able to source any in time.  If you too want to make jugged hare I can firmly attest that fresh pig’s blood found at many asian markets is a respectable alternative.  The blood was slowly added to the pot, which in turn thickened the sauce.  The hare then returned to the pot one last time for a covering of sauce and to warm back up.


Here’s the final result plated by Chef David with his amazing potatoes.

The hare was thankfully tender and light, a perfect foil for the prominent, rich blood sauce.  The sweet port tempered and enhanced the iron flavors of the pig’s blood, allowing for the meaty richness to assert itself in the wonderfully complex way that only blood can.

Everyone tore into the dish, and I can honestly say it was all gone within three minutes of this picture being taken.  I love eating hare, and this is easily my favorite way to have it.

One down, thirty eight to go.