Wild Boar Ragù
Tuscany lays claim to some of Italy's most respected hunters. Provinces throughout the region have hunting clubs that meet during the fall months to seek out the prized Wild Boar ( cinghiale) that live deep in the woods.
Note: If you live in the San Francisco area, Golden Gate Meat Company in the Ferry Building typically carries wild boar. You can also order it on-line from Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas. In a pinch, you may substitute pork shoulder but be sure to remove the fat before grinding.
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
4 Tbl olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 ½ lbs. wild boar, ground very coarsely at room temperature
1 ½ cups Montemaggiore Syrah
3 heaping Tbl. tomato paste
1 cup mushroom water
3 cups beef (or chicken) broth
1 bunch sage
2-3 sprigs parsley
1 small sprig rosemary
½ tsp allspice
grated nutmeg, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
Pour 1 ¼ cups hot water over dried Porcini Mushrooms and let stand 15 minutes. Do not discard water. If necessary, chop mushrooms.
Heat 2 Tbl. olive oil in a wide-bottomed saucepan. Add the Onion and stir frequently while sweating it over high heat for 5-8 minutes, without allowing it to color. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Push the onions to one side, and add 2 Tbl. Olive Oil to the pan. Add the meat to the pan, making sure it is spread out evenly, covering the base of the pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Resist the temptation to stir the meat, otherwise it will ooze liquid and steam rather than sear.
When one side of the meat is cooked, turn it over and continue cooking until seared. Push the meat to the side and make room in the middle of the pan. Pour in the wine and continue cooking to reduce the liquid until it is virtually nothing. Then, in the middle of the pan, add the Tomato Paste and cook a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
Now combine everything in the pan. Add 1 cup of the mushroom water along with the broth. Gather together the Sage, Rosemary and Parsley. Tie with twine, and put it in the pot. Add the Allspice and grated Nutmeg (not too much, but just enough to give it an undertone). Add salt and pepper, and if desired, some Red Pepper flakes. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
Partially cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 45 minutes. Remove the herbs. Taste again for seasoning and adjust.
Serve over chestnut pasta, regular pasta, gnocchi, or polenta. Use a wide pasta such as tagliatelle or papardelle.
Wine Pairings: Syrah and Reserve. While all wild game goes well with a big red wine, the flavors in Wild Boar match those in syrah. This dish will also naturally match the red wine with which it is made.
Recipe from Chef Gloria DeMaria.