White Haricot Beans with Hare and Oyster Mushrooms
Alubias Blancas con Liebre y Champiñón Ostra
María Arévalo never planned to become a professional cook. Born into a Segovian shepherding family, she learned to cook when she got married. Now, much later in life, she has taken to it like a duck to water after her husband's sudden death left her in charge of the Mesón Don José in Peñafiel. Dishes on the menu include rice with hare, lentils, veal's tail with artichokes, and these beans. The quantities here are calculated around a whole hare, but they could be halved. If you can lay your hands on wild mushrooms, so much the better. The best beans to use are Blanca Redonda from the two local D.O.s: El Barco or La Bañeza.
Prep Time: 45 min.[PT45M]
Cook Time: 2 hr. 15 min.[PT2H15M]
1 whole hare (see below)
1 large onion, weighing 4 oz, skinned and chopped
2 garlic cloves, skinned and sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Small handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Piece of spicy-hot dried pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
9 oz oyster mushrooms, wiped clean
A splash of Spanish brandy
1 level tsp sweet pimentón
María recommends cleaning the hare but leaving it in its skin for two days if possible. She leaves the beans to soak in salted water for at least 12 hours in a heavy-bottomed pan large enough for the cooking stage. Joint the hare and cut into chunks. Season well with salt and set aside in a cool place. Heat the olive oil gently in a large frying pan and sauté the onion, garlic, bell pepper, parsley, the spicy-hot pepper (if you are using it), the bay leaves, and thyme. When the onion is softened, add the hare pieces and sauté them until they are golden.
Add the hare and the mixture into the beans, stir in the cognac, pimentón, and enough water to cover. Put over low heat, bring to a gentle simmer and cook slowly for 1 1/2 hours, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure it is not sticking and adding a little cold water from time to time if the beans look as if they are drying out. Add the mushrooms, cook for another half hour, and check the seasoning.
By María Arévalo
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