Feasting on Wild Boar

wild boar

Photo Credit: Joshua Rappeneker

The words “wild boar” may conjure images of Vikings with horned helmets roasting captured game over a bed of coals, but today wild boar meat has acquired a more sophisticated quality.  Technology and globalization have both contributed to elevating this meat to a refined level in the culinary arts. In addition to this, however, there are some agricultural places where the wild boar population is considered a serious threat. This has urged people to increase consumption of wild boar meat, and this has encouraged cooks to come up with new recipes for this rich yet wonderfully lean meat.

What Wild Boar Meat is Like

In Serious Eats’ “Why You Should be Eating More Wild Pigs Right Now”, Heidi Roth gives an insight into what wild boar meat is all about;Wild pig meat is much leaner than commercially-raised pork, and far richer-tasting. It’s widely accepted that pigs that are allowed to roam and forage will taste better than pigs kept in pens. A free-range animal grazing on a wide variety of forgeable food gets more muscle-enhancing movement, which generates a deeper, more flavorful meat than an animal confined and raised solely on grain; and there are no antibiotics or hormone supplements to worry about with wild animals. Taking advantage of the wild pigs as food seems like a no-brainer —so why aren’t we eating more of them?”

Wild boars are free range animals. They are not caged, and they are not given growth hormones or antibiotics. When wild boar meat is commercially sold, the hogs must be taken alive and slaughtered according to health regulations. These facts make wild boar meat a better alternative than farm grown pork.

Preparing Wild Boar Meat

If you are thinking of cooking wild boar meat like regular meat, you are in for a big disappointment. Wild boar meat is unique, flavorful and delicious, but it is not the usual meat supermarket product. The years boars spend foraging for their own food make boar meat extremely flavorful, but it also develops their muscles extensively. That is why it may take you three to four hours to soften the meat.

In Livestrong’s  “How to Cook Wild Pig”, Fred Decker shares his preferred method of cooking wild boar meat: barbecue! He says, “Unsurprisingly, one of the most alluring ways to cook wild pig is as traditional barbecue. Slow-cooking the animal — whole, or in pieces — over coals and smoke complements its own rich flavors, and avoids toughening the lean meat. Brining the pig first adds flavor and helps keep it moist. For a whole hog you’ll need a large cooking pit, either made commercially or improvised with cinder blocks. For smaller pieces, such as a shoulder, an ordinary barbecue or smoker works fine. At a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, a shoulder can take eight to 12 hours and a whole hog can take 14 to 18. Smaller cuts such as ribs might need as little as three to four hours…”

As for the leg of the boar, Decker recommends seasoning the leg thoroughly with salt, pepper, and garlic, and roasting it at 450F for 25 minutes and at 250 F for four or five hours for a five to six-pound leg and about eight hours for a ten-pound leg , until your meat thermometer reads an internal temperature of 150F.

Pairing Wild Boar with Wine

Wined in suggests a glass of Beaujolais as the perfect wine for wild boar, regardless of the boar’s age when harvested while Hello Vino recommends Cotes du Rhone, “a refreshing French red with flavors of raspberries, spice, and vanilla.” Reds are the usual accompaniment for wild boar, but if you are opting for an informal outdoor barbecue, there is nothing to stop you from the truly laid back approach of enjoying your wild meat with an ice-cold bottle of your favorite beer. Bon appétit!

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