If you’re a regular visitor to the xtraWine blog, you’ll already know that we’re big believers in the power of pairing wine with foods. But usually, we focus on classic Italian dishes, with the occasional international dish thrown in for good measure.
This week, we want to look at something a little bit different.
How many of you have ever tried wild boar meat?
It’s not a delicacy that you’re going to find among all of the other meats in the supermarket. In fact, it’s likely that you won’t find it at the butcher’s either, unless you go to a speciality store.
Instead, wild boar is a type of game, which means that hunters tend to kill and prepare it for themselves.
Perhaps it’s something that you’d like to try. And it’s likely that you’ll be able to get your hands on some boar meat, if you go through the right channels.
The question you have now is how can you prepare it so that it tastes absolutely delicious? But before we get to that, let’s take a little look at what a wild boar is.
What is a Wild Boar?
The best way to define a boar is to say that it’s essentially a wild pig.
However, that’s perhaps an overly simplistic explanation. While they’re very similar animals, you can’t prepare wild boar meat in the exact same way that you’d prepare pork. The meats have different qualities, likely due to the wild nature of the boar. They aren’t raised for the express purpose of offering meat, which means there are different qualities to keep in mind when you’re cooking.
So, before getting into the tips, we just want to point out that you’re not necessarily just cooking pork.
A lot of this also depends on the boar itself. Older boars that have been through the ways a little bit will often provide you with tougher and slightly pungent meat. Again, that’s because they’ve had to work a lot harder to survive as long as they have. Plus, they’re not slaughtered for their meat at the peak time, which means the meat isn’t of an optimal quality.
Younger boars tend to have meat that’s a little more tender and closer to its more domesticated brethren. They’re also bolstered by the fact that their younger and fitter bodies enable them to find food more effectively. As such, younger boars tend to carry more fat and generally make for the better choice when you’re looking to try the meat.
So, that’s your first tip right there!
When eating wild boar, always try to determine the age of the animal. An older boar may require a few more herbs and spices, plus some tenderising, to make a good meal.
Avoid the Scent Glands
Let’s say you’re the adventurous sort who wishes to hunt and butcher your own wild boar.
Of course, you know that you need to wear gloves and decontaminate the preparation area. However, there’s one little slip that you might make that could contaminate the whole meal.
Wild boars have potent scent glands. When preparing the meat, you have to make sure you don’t cut into any of these glands. Even the slightest of nicks can create a pungent aroma that seeps into the meat. Of course, this affects the quality of the dish that you end up eating.
You’ll find these glands on the backside of the animal. Locate them and make sure you account for them when butchering the boar. In fairness, it’s usually a better idea to have a professional prepare the meat for you.
Preparing the Meat
You’re going to have to spend a little bit of time preparing the meat before you start to cook it.
The team at Bow Hunting Magazine offer some useful tips that can help you.
They recommend soaking the meat in an ice water bath for at least a day. This mellows out the slightly more pungent flavours, making it essential if you’re eating an older boar. They say that you should also add a couple of cups of lemon and about three-quarters of a cup of apple cider vinegar to the water to help with the flavour.
Change the water every 12 hours.
Also, look out for a blue tinge in the meat. If you see it, this means that you’ve added a little too much vinegar. Drain the water and refill it while using a little less vinegar next time.
You’ll generally find that boars have a lot less fat than pigs. Furthermore, this fat isn’t of the highest quality. It’s best to trim as much of it as you can before you start cooking.
When you’re cooking, you should use a low temperature and give the meat plenty of time to cook. It’s also not recommended to cook past the medium stage as the meat will become very tough and lose much of its flavour when it’s well done.
The Wine Pairing
Now that you know how to prepare the meat and cook it, you want to know which Italian wine will go best with it.
The gamey quality of the meat adds a few challenges and boar tends to be a touch less rich than pork, especially if you trim all of the fat.
We believe that a good Amarone or Barolo does the job here. Both offer complex flavours that complement what the boar has to offer. However, you’ll also want to keep the meat as close to rare as possible to ensure it maintains enough richness to mesh well with these Italian red wines.
If you’ve cooked the boar a little more, you may want to switch to a Barbera. The slightly less complex flavours make it a good choice for meats that have lost a touch of their richness.
Either way, the general rule is that quality red wines are the best when you’re eating wild boar. If you’re feeling like taking a culinary adventure, we can provide all of the mentioned wines, and many more, on xtraWine.