It’s Wild Boar Week on DadCooksDinner. (Why wild boar? I…I don’t know. Why not wild boar?)
Wild boar! I think of a snout, tusks, and a bad attitude.
Turns out, I’m not wrong about that. (Especially the bad attitude.) We’ve got a wild boar problem in Texas. Wild boar are free range, in the original sense - we have no control over them. They roam across the countryside, rooting around in farmer’s fields, destroying backyard gardens, generally being a pest.
Picture the swine version of a nuisance animal - let’s say a raccoon - digging in your back yard. Except this one weighs 200 pounds. And did I mention the tusks? They’re a particular problem in Texas, but they’re loose in 39 states, including my home state of Ohio.
“Feral Swine” is the official USDA designation, because American wild boar is a cross between pigs that escaped the first Spanish explorers, and European wild boar introduced for hunters in the late 1800’s.
Feral swine is a great name for a band. Or a competition barbecue team. I’d be amazed if the name wasn’t already in use on the BBQ circuit.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’ve been itching to cook wild boar shoulder for quite a while now, but I couldn’t find boar in any local stores. That is, until Giant Eagle opened their Market District store in my area, and I saw wild boar loin. Not what I wanted, but close. Even better, the boar was from D’Artagnan, the duck and foie gras people. They sell wild boar shoulder on their website.. The Internet to the rescue!
Today we’re making Spezzatino di Cinghiale - Italian wild boar stew. What does wild boar taste like? Pork, with a nutty, beefy flavor. It doesn’t taste like game, but like a stronger flavored than pork.
Dad, this stew is BOAR-ing. Hee hee heee. Get it?
[My daughter. She’ll be here all week.]
No pressure cooker? No worries - see the Notes section for traditional cooking instructions. And, if you can’t find wild boar, pork shoulder is a fine substitute.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Wild Boar Stew (Spezzatino di Cinghiale)
- 3 pounds wild boar shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes (or substitute pork shoulder)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1 celery rib, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths
1. Sear the boar in batches
Sprinkle the boar cubes with 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sear the boar in 2 to 3 batches, depending on the size of your pot - don’t crowd the pot, or the boar will steam instead of browning. Sear the boar until well browned on two sides, about 3 minutes a side, then remove to a bowl and sear the next batch.
2. Saute the aromatics
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and tomato paste to the pot, then sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon salt. Saute, stirring and scraping the browned bits of boar from the bottom of the pan, until the onions are softened, about five minutes. Add the red wine to the pot, bring to a simmer, and scrape the bottom of the pot again to loosen any browned bits.
3. Everything into the pot
Stir in the boar and any juices from the bowl, then add the sprig of thyme and rosemary. Pour the tomatoes on top, but don’t stir. Put a steamer basket on top of everything in the pot and set the carrots in the steamer basket.
4. Pressure cook the stew
Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure, then cook at high pressure for 20 minutes (25 minutes for an electric pressure cooker). Remove from the heat, allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes, then quick release any pressure left in the pot. Remove the lid from the pot - be careful, the pot will be full of hot steam.
Dump the carrots in the steamer basket into the stew, set the steamer basket aside, and stir the carrots into the stew. Discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to the stew if it needs it. (If the stew tastes bland and flat, add salt until the flavor brightens up. I added an additional teaspoon of kosher salt to the stew). Serve with polenta, or mashed potatoes, or pasta.
- No pressure cooker? No worries. Use a heavy bottomed dutch oven with a lid. Increase the amount of wine to 2 cups. Follow the instructions right up until “lock the lid”. Then, instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a boil, cover, and move the pot to a preheated 350*F oven. Bake for 2 hours, or until the boar is tender.
- No wild boar? Substitute pork shoulder. It won’t quite have that wild boar taste…but I love pork shoulder, and it would work great in this recipe. If you want to get closer to the wild boar taste, go with 2 pounds of pork shoulder, and 1 pound of beef chuck.
- Why use a steamer basket for the carrots? Pressure cooking carrots in the liquid leaves them too mushy - they disintegrate into the stew. Lifting them above the stew and steaming helps keep them together, so you get chunks of carrot in the stew instead of carrot puree.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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