Birthday Boar – a Rugged Ragú
“So, who’s in the kitchen? To be honest, I’d like a 70-year-old Italian nonna. Under 5ft tall, if possible, with big glasses and powerful forearms. She takes precisely zero crap from anybody and makes the most sensational wild boar ragù on the planet. Failing that, I’ll take the great Ruth Rogers, co-founder of the River Cafe.”Nathan Brooker’s fantasy dinner party, The Financial Times
It’s the Saucy Dressings’ Chief Taster’s birthday today and, for various reasons, ragú of wild boar is the appropriate dish. If you marinate it and then cook it very slowly it is supremely tender.
The restaurant chain Cicchetti serves their ragú of wild boar with pappardelle castagne (pasta made with chestnut flour) but I prefer to serve mine with pici pasta and mountains of parmesan. It’s also good with tagliatelle.
Another twist is to go down the mushroom route – use pici made with porcini mushrooms and scatter some additional fried porcini mushrooms over the ragú just before serving.
This dish freezes well, or alternatively, you can freeze the fresh meat in the marinade, and then unfreeze and take it from there. Obviously if you do this you can’t refreeze after cooking.
This rugged, wild boar ragú goes well with a green salad.
Allow plenty of time for marinating and cooking.
If you have an earthenware pot which will go on the hob as well as in the oven, use it – it will distribute the heat efficiently.
Recipe of a rugged boar ragú
- 750g/1 lb 10 oz wild boar shoulder, off the bone. Order this from the butcher. Get him to cut into cubes of approximately 1”/2 cm, and trim off the sinew and fat
- 4 rashers streaking bacon, cut into lengths
- 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks celery
- 4 fat cloves of garlic, crushed with 1 teasp smoked salt
- 70g/2 oz Crespo pitted black olives with herbs (or in oil from your pot)
- 2 tsp juniper berries
- 360ml/1½ cups red wine (this is over two thirds of a bottle)
- 2 tbsp tomato pesto
- 2 beef stock cubes
- A plate with seasoned flour on it
- 3 large bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- Zest of one orange
- 2 tbsp thyme, just pulled off the stalk (run your finger over the stalk the wrong way)
- 3 sticks of rosemary
- Indonesian long peppercorns (two)
- Pasta and Parmesan to serve
- Rapeseed oil to fry
- Make a marinade with the red wine, juniper berries, long peppercorns, bay leaves, 1 carrot, one celery stick, one of the onions and one of the sprigs of rosemary. Add the boar to the marinade, and marinate, covered in clingfilm, for a couple of days. You can also freeze in the marinade.
- Preheat your oven to 150°C.
- Pour a reasonable slug of rapeseed oil into a big casserole with a lid and get it hot.
- Meanwhile remove the meat from the marinade with a slotted spoon, roll it in the seasoned flour to lightly cover.
- Add the vegetables to the large saucepan and cook gently for about five minutes. Then add the marinade.
- Get a frying pan good and hot and and brown the meat in the oil – you may need to do this in batches. Move it as you do so into the big saucepan or casserole.
- Chop the bacon into short lengths and fry in the pan you’ve used to brown the meat. Add a bit more oil if you need to.
- Stir in everything else.
- Bring the whole lot to a simmer, cover and cook for three hours (if you have an Aga obviously, use the simmering oven.
- Remove the rosemary and bay leaves before serving.
- Adjust seasoning.
This post is dedicated to Arthur and Rachel Cunynghame, with thanks.
Music to cook to
Here’s The Furrow Collective with Wild Hog