It’s a rainy day here in San Francisco, so rather than stepping outside for last-minute Christmas shopping, I’d decided to stay in and share with you my experience with preparing wild boar. In our quest for an interesting culinary experience for our party guests, Curt found a meat supplier, D’Artagnan, to ship us wild boar shoulder roasts. I found this recipe on the D’Artagnan website, and although you have to begin preparations a couple days ahead, it is so worthwhile! … and, you can always turn the prep work into a party! My friend Sandra was sweet enough to come over a few days ahead of time to help.
5 pounds D’Artagnan boneless wild boar shoulder
1 bottle (750 ml) full-bodied dry red wine, such as a Syrah
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, thickly sliced
1 tablespoon dried Mediterranean oregano
2 bay leaf
2 teaspoons juniper berries
1 teaspoon bruised black and/or white peppercorns
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, chopped, for garnish
Two days in advance, trim any excess fat from the wild boar and cut the meat into 24 pieces of approximately equal size. Gather all the trimmed fat and set aside.
In a flameware casserole, bring the wine and cognac to a boil over medium-low heat. This would be the time to pause and remember where you stashed away that kitchen fire extinguisher! Turn off the heat and ignite, averting your face.
When the flames subside, cover the casserole to keep the liquid hot. Generously season the wild boar with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large conventional skillet (of course I pulled out my go-to cast iron).
Sauté the meat in batches over medium-high heat, turning, until nicely browned all over, about 5 minutes. Be sure not to crowd the skillet, otherwise the meat will steam and not brown! As they are done, add each batch of hot meat to the hot wine in the casserole. Let stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, add the trimmed fat to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, onion, oregano, bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns, garlic, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the casserole.
Ladle 1 cup of the liquid from the casserole into the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits still clinging to the bottom of the pan. Boil over high heat until reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes (sipping on a nice glass of wine will help here … it’s important to be patient and not rush through this step). Ladle another cup of the marinade from the casserole into the skillet and again boil down to a syrup. Return this reduced syrupy liquid to the casserole.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Set the casserole over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Cover with a sheet of crumpled parchment paper and a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid but not the paper and continue to cook for 2 hours. Transfer to a wooden board or folded kitchen towel to prevent cracking. Discard the paper and use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl.
Strain the liquid and vegetables through a fine sieve set over a conventional saucepan. Press hard to get every drop of liquid. Skim off some of the fat and boil the juices over high heat until reduced to about 3 cups. Let cool; then cover and refrigerate the sauce and meat separately.
A day or two later, remove the meat and sauce from the refrigerator and let stand for about 2 hours to bring the meat and sauce back to room temperature. Meanwhile, brush a shallow baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the boar in the baking dish. Remove the fat from the surface of the sauce. Gently reheat the sauce in a conventional saucepan. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper and pour over the boar. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.
The D’Artagnan recipe included an almond & chocolate picada, and I had every intention of making this, but simply ran out of time … I decided I really did need to take a shower before our guests began to arrive!
Why the heck would I go to so much trouble to prepare wild boar? I’ve pretty much stuck to making the same 5 meats my whole life … chicken, turkey, pork, fish, and beef. Now that I’m 50, I’ve been at this for a while! Technique of this dish was so unique, I just had to try it. Not that I’m a wild boar conisseur, but I’ve read that because they are fed acorns it gives the meat a richer taste. The meat is lean and pork-like, but darker in color and has a tighter grain. It pairs nicely with a bold red wine or strong ale, which you typically can’t do with a traditional pork dish. Next time I’ll serve with a nice zinfandel.
As for the taste, YUM! It’s as rich as a duck, but drier (and not greasy) … lean and tries to be as dry as a turkey. Wild boar would never be confused for any meat you would find from a grocery counter. Next time, I’ll serve this dish over hot buttered egg noodles.