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Hare stew with bacon, onions and a beer sauce

Moves are afoot to restore the blue hare to the quarry list for falconers, but brown hare is a delicious substitute in José Souto’s pale ale stew. Serves five.

hare stew

Hare and bacon stew

Hare stew with bacon, onions and a beer sauce


  • Oil for frying
  • 1kg diced hare legs and shoulder
  • 150g streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 15g butter
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • 30g flour
  • 330ml Pale ale beer or Stout
  • 700ml Dark chicken stock
  • Good sprig of marjoram
  • Good sprig of thyme


  1. Heat the oil in a pan until smoking hot. Fry the hare meat in small portions so that it seals well and colours. Once all the meat is sealed, put it to one side. In the same pan, fry the bacon and add it to the hare meat.
  2. In the same pan, melt the butter, then fry the onions until golden brown. Add the flour and allow it to cook out for five minutes.
  3. Next, add the beer to the flour and onions, stirring well to break up any lumps.
  4. Add the stock and bring it to the boil, stirring well so it becomes a smooth sauce. Then return the meat and herbs to the pan.
  5. Bring the stew to the boil, turn it down to a simmer and allow it to cook on a low heat for two hours, or until the meat is tender.

Jose on hare stew and hares

In the years that I’ve been practising falconry, I have taken most of the quarry that you could expect to take with a bird of prey. That said, although I’ve flown for red grouse and knocked them down with peregrines, I have never bagged one. The other species that proved to be elusive was the blue hare, also known as the mountain hare.

Nine years ago, my family and I were invited to hawk on the Nairnside moor, near Inverness. The moor had a few blue hares, mainly found on the higher peaks. At that time, my wife, Charlotte, and I had two Harris hawks, Kaylee and Balvenie. Both birds had plenty of experience on rabbits and had hit a few brown hares, although they had never brought one to bag, despite their best efforts.

Blues are smaller than their brown cousins and a large one might weigh about 6lb (3kg). They are fast, though, and will run across the hill, then up into the wind, so a flight should always start from above them. This does mean, though, that after an unsuccessful slip, you end up going to retrieve your bird and walking back up the hill to maintain an elevated position, which can be hard work.

My wife and I spent the first two days running up and down the moor, retrieving birds after fantastic flights with no results. On the third morning, following a flurry of snow, we tried our luck again. We climbed the first ridge, spacing ourselves six metres apart. Within minutes, the first hare bolted.

Kaylee was quicker to leave the fist and, being smaller than Balvenie, she quickly caught up with the hare. She was about to grab it when it made a 90-degree turn and ran uphill.

Kaylee overshot and lost momentum, but Balvenie, being further back, saw the turn and flared her tail, allowing her to rise into the air then turn over and grab her prize. The flight showed how well Harris hawks work together and we caught a few more hares over the following few days.

Alas, blue hares are no longer on the quarry list, so they can’t be taken with gun or bird. However, a group called A Future With Falconry has lodged a petition aiming to have the law amended to allow upland hawking of mountain hares. In the meantime, brown hare works well as a culinary alternative in this hare stew recipe. (You might like to read our tips on freezing game.)