Before our big dinner party, I went to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, as is my wont. There, I ran into Jen, master locavore. We got talking about the dinner party, and when she asked what I was serving, I mentioned that we were having roast leg of boar.
"Where did you get boar?" She asked.
"I had it shipped in from Texas," I replied, adding, "don't judge me."
I'm sure it's possible to get locally sourced boar, but we've been meaning to check out Broken Arrow Ranch for some time now. We discovered it while on the proverbial hunt for wild game charcuterie after a trip to the Canadian Rockies a few years ago. Broken Arrow Ranch sells humanely hunted, truly wild boar, venison and antelope. The animals are hunted using long-range, silent rifles, and the meat is harvested and processed right in the field. Local it may not be, but it is ethical and sustainable.
I don't know about you, but few of our cookbooks contain recipes for boar -- at least not the American ones. Broken Arrow Ranch provides some cooking instructions, but we wanted some other sources to compare. We naturally turned our eye to The Silver Spoon, a fantastic tome of more than 2,000 Italian recipes, and an absolute must-have for anyone who cooks Italian food. There we found not just one but three recipes for boar.
There are apparently two main methods for roasting a whole leg of boar: High and hot, or low and slow. We opted for the slow and low, figuring it might take on the lovely fall-apart texture of pulled pork. It did not -- the meat is so lean, there is little fat or connective tissue to break down -- but it tasted good nevertheless. The meat was dense and a little dry, but had a wonderful, rich, nutty flavor that reminded me a lot of the jamòn we had in Andalucia.
We served slices over a dollop of butternut squash risotto (yet another pressure cooker miracle) and doused with a rich pan sauce. And then we pigged out.
Wild Boar in Sauce (Cinghiale in salsa)
Adapted from The Silver Spoon
1 6-lb. leg of boar (feral pig)
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Some fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 750 ml bottle good red wine
3/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients other than the boar in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the boar leg. Bring to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Season the boar with salt and pepper, and add to the cooled marinade. Cover with foil and let rest in the fridge for 24 hours, turning at least once.
Preheat oven to 250º. Remove meat from marinade, and pour off all but enough of the marinade to cover the bottom of the roasting pan, leaving the aromatic vegetables. Return the boar to the pan and roast until it comes to an internal temperature of 140º, about 4 hours. Remove the meat to a cutting board, tent with foil, and rest for 15 minutes or so.
Place the roasting pan over medium heat. Remove any vegetable solids. When the residual liquid in the pan is boiling, add some stock, Dijon mustard, salt and whatever dry herbs you like. Then, turning off the flame, add a couple tablespoons of butter and swirl until melted and incorporated into the sauce. Pour off the sauce into a gravy boat.
Butternut squash risotto
Adapted from Pressure Perfect: Two Hour Taste in Twenty Minutes Using Your Pressure Cooker by Lorna Sass
Pressure cookers famously make perfect risotto in no time and with minimal effort. In our first try, we used vialone nanno rice, which gave a really nice, toothsome texture. However, on the big day, we were unable to find any in stock. Arborio works just fine of course.
1 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1/2 c. finely chopped shallots or onion
1.5 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine or vermouth
3.5 c. chicken broth (plus 1/2 c. extra)
1 tsp salt (omit if using salty broth)
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more if needed
Freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1.5 c. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2-3 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
Heat the oil or butter in a 4-qt or larger pressure cooker. Add the onions and cook over high heat for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in the rice, making sure to coat it all with the oil.
Standing back to avoid sputtering oil, add the wine and stir. Cook over high heat until the rice has absorbed the wine, about 30 seconds. Stir in 3.5 c. of broth, plus the squash, 2 Tbsp of sage and salt. Take care to scrape up any rice sticking to the bottom of the cooker.
Lock lid in place. Bring to high pressure and cook for 4 minutes (5 if using vialone nanno, baldo or carnaroli). Quick release the pressure and remove lid when pressure's off.
The risotto will still be pretty soupy at this point. Put the cooker back on med-high heat and stir vigorously for about 3-5 minutes, until the mixture thickens and the rice becomes tender; the squash will break down and help thicken the risotto, but some chunks will remain. Add extra stock if it gets too dry. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cheese and additional sage, salt and pepper to taste. The risotto will continue to thicken on the plate.
Michael Ruhlman enjoyed some Broken Arrow Ranch venison liver.
Jo at Amuse Bouche hunkered down for some roast wild boar with port cherry sauce.
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook rounds up some boar recipes.