How to Cook Wild Boar

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The flavors and textures of domestically bred meats are familiar and comfortable, but game meats can be less predictable. Most game animals are leaner than their domestic counterparts, even in the case of well-fed wild boars, and their meat benefits from cooking at lower temperatures. Wild boars are also highly variable in flavor, depending on their age and what they've been eating. Whether you're preparing farmed European-style wild boar or a feral hog you've hunted yourself, you can use most of the same cooking methods you'd employ with ordinary pork.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt and pepper, or other aromatics and seasonings to taste
  • Meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer

Tender Boar Roasts

  • Trim any excess surface fat from a boar loin or rib roast, leaving approximately 1/4 inch to protect the meat during cooking.

  • Sear the roast's exposed surfaces in a hot skillet, if you wish, to create savory flavors in the browned meat. This step is optional, but improves the flavor of your roast.

  • Season the roast generously with salt and pepper, or other herbs and spices, to taste. Place it in a roasting pan, and transfer it to a preheated oven. Boar fares best at temperatures of 325 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and long-cooking at 250 F yields the juiciest end result.

  • Roast the boar until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the cut shows an internal temperature of at least 145 F, or higher if you prefer a well-done roast. Your actual cooking time can vary widely with oven temperature and the size of your roast, from 2 hours or less to 6 hours or more, so a thermometer reading is crucial.

  • Remove the roast from your oven, and let it rest under a loose covering of aluminum foil for 10 to 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Braised Boar Leg

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F. Trim any excess fat or visible connective tissue from your boar leg, and wipe the ends of the bone with a paper towel to remove any fragments that might have been left by your butcher's saw. Sear the leg on all sides, if you wish, in a heavy-duty roasting pan or other suitably large vessel. This step is optional, but gives the finished dish a richer flavor.

  • Chop onions, carrots, celery, garlic or other aromatic vegetables coarsely to taste. Place them in the bottom of a deep roasting pan or large baking dish, and then nestle the boar leg into the bed of aromatics. Season the roast generously. Add bay leaves, juniper berries, and other herbs and spices to taste.

  • Pour in enough water, broth, sauce, wine, cider, beer or other desired liquid to immerse the leg at least halfway. Cover your roasting pan or casserole and slide it into the preheated oven.

  • Slow-cook the boar leg until it's tender enough to cut with a spoon or the side of a fork, typically 6 to 10 hours depending on the size of the roast. Remove the pan from your oven. Lift out the boar leg and transfer it to a cutting board or large platter. Cover it loosely with foil and keep it warm.

  • Strain the cooking liquid into a large measuring cup, and skim away any fat that rises to the surface. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan, and thicken it -- either by boiling until it reduces, or by adding a starch-based thickener -- then serve the resulting sauce with your tender boar.

Grilling Savory Chops

  • Trim any excess fat from boar loin or rib chops. Brush or spray them lightly with oil, and then season the chops generously.

  • Oil your grill to minimize sticking, and bring it to a medium temperature of 350 to 375 F. Fat acts as an insulator when meats are cooking, and lean boar tends to toughen if it's cooked at the same temperature as a beefsteak or pork chop.

  • Lay your chops on the grill. If you like to have restaurant-style grill marks, arrange each chop at a consistent angle to the grill's bars. After approximately 2 minutes, when the chops are well-seared, rotate them 70 to 90 degrees to make the cross-hatch marks.

  • Cook your chops on the first side for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on their thickness, and then turn them and grill for the same length of time on the second side.

  • Rest your chops for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your boar's fat has a distinctly gamy or pungent flavor, trim away all surface fat and thick veins of fat from the meat. Shroud your roasts with sliced bacon or sheets of sliced, unsalted pork fatback instead, to provide protection from the heat and help keep the boar meat moist.
  • Rotate a braised boar leg midway through cooking, if you wish, so the top becomes the bottom. This helps ensure even cooking.
  • Boar tenderloin can be grilled whole, like a large chop, or cut into medallions. Medallions or chops can be brined or marinated ahead of time, if you wish, then blotted dry before they're cooked.
  • Traditional European recipes for boar typically call for strong-flavored, wine-based marinades and ingredients, such as juniper berries or wild mushrooms. These are intended to moderate the often-funky flavor of wild-caught animals. They're not necessary with farmed boar, but feel free to use these traditional preparations if you're partial to their flavors.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking all game animals to an internal temperature of 160 F, to ensure the destruction of bacteria and -- especially important -- Trichina spiralis, the parasite that causes trichinosis. Farmed wild boar is safer, and can be cooked to 145 F like pork if you wish, though if the animals are permitted free run of a wooded area they may also pose a risk.
  • To kill the parasite, and render your boar safe for cooking to 145 F, you can freeze chops and other small cuts to a temperature of minus 20 F for a minimum of six days, and roasts or larger cuts for 12 days. This is colder than a refrigerator's freezer can manage, so you'll need both a deep-freeze and a freezer thermometer to verify the temperature.

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References

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