Wild boar used to be common in this country, but they were hunted so much that they were wiped out. Now the meat is popular again and British farmers are raising boar.
They’re woodland creatures so we’ve used ingredients such as juniper berries and herbs that they might snuffle up in the woods to flavour this rich meat sauce. The secret to success with this sauce is to cook it long and slow, until the meat is falling apart.
700g boneless wild boar shoulder
4–5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into 1cm slices
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
75g pitted black olives, rinsed and drained
2 tsp juniper berries, lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar
500ml red wine
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
500ml beef stock
2 large bay leaves
3 bushy sprigs of thyme
1 rosemary stalk, about 12cm long, leaves finely chopped
2 tsp caster sugar
Freshly cooked pappardelle pasta, to serve
Shavings of Parmesan cheese, to serve
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the boar into chunky pieces, each about 2.5cm. Trim off any really hard fat or sinew as you go – this is important, as boar sinew is very tough. Season the meat well with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan.
Fry the chunks of boar over a medium-high heat until nicely browned on all sides, turning them every now and then. Do this in a couple of batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, adding more oil if necessary. As the meat is browned, transfer it to a large flameproof casserole dish or a large saucepan.
Add a little more oil to the pan in which you browned the boar and fry the bacon for 2–3 minutes, or until the fat crisps and browns, then scatter it over the meat. Add a touch more oil and fry the chopped onion over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Stir the garlic, olives and crushed juniper berries into the pan and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring. Add them to the meat in the casserole dish, then pour in the wine. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée and beef stock. Add all the herbs and the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Stir well and cover the casserole loosely with a lid, then turn the heat down low and leave the ragù to simmer very gently for 2½ hours, or until the meat is completely tender and falling apart.
Remove the lid every now and then and stir. If the liquid reduces too much, add a little extra water. The sauce should be fairly thick at the end of the cooking time, but not at all dry. Remove the thyme and rosemary stalks and bay leaves, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with freshly cooked pappardelle pasta and Parmesan shavings. Any leftover sauce makes great ravioli or arancini.
THE HAIRY BIKERS’ MEAT FEASTS by Si King & Dave Myers is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback at £22, eBook: £12.99