Saying you’re making something with wild boar adds a bit of panache to the occasion, does it not?If it were “pasta with tomato-hued ground beef,” the recipe title would lack ‘zing’ for its very lack of wild boar. I suppose you could use pork sausage for this dish as well, and it would be quite delicious, but it doesn’t elicit the excitement that mouthing the words “WILD BOAR” complete with the anchor of that sensual rolled “r.”
Actually, it’s ironic that there’s no real pizzazz around using regular pork since wild boars and domesticated pigs are very much related. See this guy below? It’s a wild boar. He looks like a domesticated pig that’s been on a drinking binge in the wild for a few months. Indeed. As I learned recently, it only takes 2 generations for domesticated pigs to become…should I say it?…pigs gone wild. Ha! Or wild boars. They get bigger, darker, and hairier. But then I suppose we would all turn that way if we spend all that time living in the woods foraging for a living.
In any event, the lifestyle may not be good for their looks, but it sure creates fabulous flavor.
Honestly, it’s a mystery to me why we don’t see more of this scrumptious meat in supermarkets and on restaurant menus in the United States. My brief research on the subject revealed that it’s practically over-running the state of Texas as we speak. It’s one of the few animals that can be legally hunted there year-round, with the implicit and explicit blessing of just about everyone, since this overgrown pig seems to ravage everything in its path.
It is the ultimate “free range” animal to boot, as it grows in the wild and feeds itself on vegetables, roots, and just about everything and anything – even its own young if no other food can be found.
As a result of this “wild” lifestyle, wild boar is leaner and firmer than its domesticated brethren. Flavorwise, its meat tends to be a tad sweeter, with a lovely hint of nuttiness (could that be from eating all those stereotypical acorns, I wonder), and is neither gamey nor greasy. In other words, there are only upsides to eating it. And while I often feel a little guilty about consuming even very small amounts of cute Annabelle-type cows, I am only too happy to contribute to abetting the wild boar pest problem.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, “wild hogs are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States today. Two million to six million of the animals are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states and four Canadian provinces; half are in Texas, where they do some $400 million in damages annually. They tear up recreational areas, occasionally even terrorizing tourists in state and national parks, and squeeze out other wildlife.” So as you can see, if you are like me and are begin to struggle more and more with eating cute, furry beings, this particular meat choice makes it really easy on the conscience.
And besides….it’s so tasty. And my cat Hamilton agrees. He has not left the kitchen since I opened up these packages of D’Artagnan wild boar sausage (Nope…I am not a brand ambassador, though I was very happy with this purchase).
See what I mean about Hamilton?
I am afraid my mom would not approve of having our cat hang out on the dishwasher door. She would consider it uncouth and I dare say uncivilized and at the very least unhygienic…but hey…the dishes were dirty! Besides, I loved having him around, even though he clearly has his own agenda for hanging around.
making pasta with tomato hued wild boar sausage
Bring 1 cup of Madeira wine to a gentle boil in a small saucepan and continue boiling until reduced almost by half, about 5 minutes. (this will concentrate its flavor, including acidity and sweetness). Remove from the heat and set aside.
As the Madeira boils, remove the casings from 2 8.5-ounce packages of wild boar sausages (I used D’Artagnan) and crumble the sausage into small pieces.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter and raise the heat to medium-high. Once the butter has melted and stopped foaming, add 5 fresh sage leaves and cook for 1 minute, stirring once or twice.
Add the crumbled sausage and continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
Cook until the sausage becomes golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste
and stir until it has completely blended with the sausage crumbles.
Add the reduced Madeira wine and 3/4 cup of chicken broth and bring the skillet to a gentle boil.
Adjust the heat to low and let sauce simmer gently until it visibly thickens and the oil has separated from the sauce and is on the surface, about 15 minutes. Remove the sage leaves.
As the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt (1 tablespoon for every 4 cups water) and stir. Add 3/4 pounds of busiate pasta or a shape of your choice, stirring for the first minute to prevent any sticking. Cook according to the package or recipe instructions, draining the pasta 2 minutes short of the directed cooking time. The pasta should be softened but still a little too firm to enjoy eating. Right before draining the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
Return the pot to the stove. Immediately turn the heat to high, add the remaining ½ tablespoon butter and reserved pasta water. Add the drained pasta and toss. Add the sauce and toss continuously for 2 minutes.
Divide the pasta between four warmed bowls. Serve piping hot, topped with a generous dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano (or pass the grated cheese at the table). Makes 4 servings.