I was waiting in line one day last week at John Dewar to pay for my monthly allotment of Irish bangers for husband and some friends of ours when I spied a D'Artagnan package looking lonely in the bottom of one of the freezer cases. It was a little round ball, no larger than a softball.
Two things caught my eye.
First: That it was boar, something I had been hoping to find for some time.
Second: The fact that they actually put 'Meat from Feral swine' on the package. Perhaps if the 'It's boar, not boring!' didn't grab you, maybe the thought of eating feral swine might.
Feral Swine. I just like saying it. It's not every day that you get to work those words into a conversation.
Having had a game class at school I knew exactly what sauce I would be having with it. Pork and fruit are just a made in heaven combination. In the game class we had prepared what at the time was called a boar, but having had this I now question whether that was just plain old domestic, farm-raised pork. The best part of the dish was the port and cherry sauce.
I decided to treat the roast a little differently from the recipe at school. I just opened up a ziploc bag and poured in some red wine, tossed in some juniper berries, black peppercorns, some minced shallots, a few cloves of garlic, some extra virgin olive oil and a few sprigs of thyme. I tossed in the boar and set it in the fridge overnight smooshing things around occasionally.
The day I was ready to make it I pulled it out of the marinade, dried it, rubbed it with salt, pepper, a few shallots and some olive oil and then seared it in a pan. It then went on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and into a 350 oven. It did take far longer than the 12 - 15 minutes a pound that I planned on. In the end it was more like 45 - 50 minutes for a 1.5 pound roast to reach 140.
While it was in the oven I used the pan it was seared in to cook more shallots, deglazed it with the port the cherries had been soaking in and some red wine a bit of vinegar and added a few scoops of the most amazing, jelly like, you could serve it like a Bavarian, veal demi-glace that John Dewar is now making in-house. Seriously, I am in love. Before you balk at the price, I can assure you that veal bones are extremely expensive. You also have to cook the stock for 12 - 24 hours in order to render the gelatin from the bones. At that point, you only have veal stock. Then if you are being classical, you make an espagnole and using equal parts of espagnole and veal stock you reduce it all further by half to make demi-glace. Time efficient this process is not. When I want maximum flavour bang I generally buy D'Artgnan's veal and duck demi-glace, but at $6.99 for 6.5 oz of the nectar I nearly squealed in delight when I saw this at John Dewar's.
Never mind how excited I was when I got home and found out it was like this.
Oh yea, it was love at first sight.
I reduced it all down, added the cherries, seasoned it with some s&p and a touch more port.
It was glorious. Better still, husband who does not generally like sweet and sour together, liked it as well. As a matter of fact, tonight we will repeat it with duck breasts. I'll let you know how it goes later.
As for the boar, it was absolutely amazing. The meat is not at all like the pork you are used to. Dark, dense, and more like beef or buffalo to the tooth, it is a substantial meat. The taste was like a more intense version of the way I remember pork tasting as a kid before they were all defattened and fed a universally bland diet. It's a shame that the only way to get boar is through a specialty retailer. According to the D'Artagnan site the roast I bought would cost $15.00. I can't recall if that is what I paid, I'll look more carefully next time I buy one, but compared to Filet Mignon for two or dry aged rib eye from Whole Foods it is still a very reasonable price for an extremely delicious meat.
It's Boar people, not boring.