We’re just in the door from six weeks of tours in the Veneto. It’s always good to be home, to get back to Burgundy. But our long absence means that a huge pile of mail and a long to-do list await our return. So we usually allow a few days to regroup before we announce to the world that we are back in action.
But hunting season trumps everything else here in Burgundy. So imagine our surprise when a mere half hour after we unlocked the front door, a friend turns up with a hind quarter of wild boar (sanglier), literally on the hoof!
Not much choice but to break it down and prep it toute de suite. So rather than filing and e-mail, this morning we awoke, donned aprons and sharpened our knives and cleavers.
These photos are a discreet ‘before’ and an abundant ‘after’. We have a leg roast (what the French call gigot) and a haunch (a gigot raccourci), three tenderloin roasts, a stew pot full of marinating chunks, as well as ribs slow-roasting in the oven for tonight….and of course, something special for Haggis, the wonder dog.
We’ve lit the wood burner, unlocked the cellar door, and are ready for that first taste of the changing season. Let the autumn begin! Here is a recipe to put you in the mood, should one of your hunter friends drop a hunk of game on your doorstep.
Wild Boar in Red Wine with a Burgundian Potato Galette
You will need to do some advance planning for this recipe, as the wild boar benefits from a marinade for a day or two to tenderize the meat before cooking. A meaty leg of venison also works well in this type of preparation.
You could serve this daube with plain steamed potatoes, polenta or pasta. I like to serve it with these potato and cheese pancakes to soak up all the delicious sauce.
4 pounds wild boar meat from the shoulder and/or leg
3 garlic cloves
1 bouquet garni made of bay leaf, parsley and thyme
2 one-inch strips of orange zest
1 bottle red wine
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the thickening agent, a beurre manie:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
Cut the meat into two-inch cubed chunks. Put the meat in a large bowl. Coarsely chop the onion and carrot, lightly crush the garlic cloves and add them to the bowl. Make the bouquet garni by tying up 2 bay leaves, a handful of parsley sprigs and a large branch of thyme with kitchen twine. Add this to the bowl along with the cloves, orange peel, peppercorns, wine and red wine vinegar. Stir the mixture and add some water if the meat is not entirely covered by the marinade. Drizzle over a little olive oil, cover and refrigerate 24-48 hours, stirring the mixture once or twice in that time.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Lift the meat from the marinade with a slotted spoon and pat the meat dry with paper towel. Strain the marinade, reserving the liquid and the vegetables. In a large heavy- bottom casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over high heat until foaming. Add a few pieces of meat to the hot fat and brown well on all sides. Don’t add too much meat to the pan at once. You want the meat to sear, so work in batches. Once all the meat has been browned and removed from the pan, add the reserved vegetables (not the bouquet garni) from the marinade and, over medium heat, cook them until lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add the marinade liquid slowly and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol and then add the browned meat to the liquid. Push the meat down into the liquid and add the bouquet garni. Wet a piece of parchment paper that is roughly the size of the pan and place on top of the meat. Cover the pot and put it into the preheated oven. After 30 minutes check the meat to make sure that it is cooking at a low simmer. Return to the oven and continue to cook for an additional 1½ to 2 hours until very tender when pronged with a fork.
For the beurre manie: Knead the butter and flour together in a small bowl. Chill.
When the boar is tender, remove it from the oven. Lift out the chunks with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the sauce through a fine strainer, pressing well to extract all of the flavor from the vegetables. Pour the sauce back into the pan and bring it to a boil. Whisk in the beurre manie 1 teaspoon at a time into the bubbling sauce. When all the lumps have dissolved, season the sauce to taste and reduce until your sauce naps a spoon nicely. Return the meat to the sauce and at this point, you can cool the daube, and reheat it when ready to serve. It will taste even better the next day. Serve hot from the casserole, if you like.
Potato and Cheese Pancakes
Here in Burgundy I use local fromage blanc, or fresh farmers’ cheese, for these pancakes. If fromage blanc is not available, substitute ricotta cheese.
1 pound waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg
¾ cup fromage blanc or ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Peel the potatoes and grate them in a food processor or with a fine hand grater. Put the grated potato into a bowl and mix immediately with the other ingredients.
In a large non-stick sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of butter with a little canola oil over medium heat. With a large spoon drop in the potato mixture and let the pancakes cook and brown lightly on one side. Flip the pancakes and brown the other side. Remove the pancakes to a platter, season with salt and pepper and keep warm while making the rest. Serve the pancakes warm.