Wild boar stew

Wild boar stew

Cinghiale in umido

By
From
Acquacotta
Serves
4
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

Don’t marinate it, said Ilena Donati, firmly, referring to the common practice that everyone’s nonna advocates of marinating game in wine for 24 hours before cooking it. It disguises the true flavour of the meat. Besides, the wild boars today aren’t like the ones they once were.

And especially not in Capalbio, where there is plenty of farmed boar, more ‘polite’, tender and delicate, as gastronome Aldo Santini says.

Lots of bay leaf. Lots of rosemary. Whole. A pinch of chilli. Not everyone likes it, but it’s good. She said it in a way that means the chilli really belongs there.

And brown the meat. Brown it really well. Add a splash of vinegar. When that evaporates, add vino nero – she means red wine, but calling it ‘black wine’ is an old-fashioned expression that makes me smile.

And then tomatoes, broken down with your hands – she gestures with her hands as if holding them above the pan and I’m imagining the feel of peeled tomatoes being squashed between my fingers – and cook it, slowly, slowly. This last treasured piece of advice for cooking like a Maremman, piano, piano, is the key to this very special stew.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg wild boar, cut into large chunks, (on the bone)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, whole
60ml red wine vinegar
4 rosemary sprigs
4 bay leaves
1 litre dry red wine
400g tinned peeled tomatoes
chilli flakes, (optional)
or chopped fresh red chilli, (optional)
good crusty bread, to serve
or soft polenta, to serve

Method

  1. In a large casserole pot, brown the meat in the olive oil in batches over high heat until seared evenly on all sides. Don’t worry if the meat sticks – that wonderful brown crust on the bottom of the pot will just add flavour later. Once well-browned (about 10–15 minutes per batch), return all the meat to the pot, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the garlic and let it colour a little, about 2 minutes.
  2. Pour over the vinegar to deglaze the pot and stir, scraping at the brown crust, with a wooden spoon. Let the liquid evaporate almost completely, about 5 minutes, then add the herbs, wine and tomato. Add chilli, if using.
  3. Once the liquid comes back to the boil, turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone – about 2 hours. Top up with water as necessary to keep the meat covered with liquid.
  4. Serve the stew as it is with something starchy to mop up the juices, such as good crusty bread or soft polenta. It is often served with a side dish like the Sformato di Cipollotti. Alternatively, toss it through some pasta like tagliatelle or pappardelle and serve it.

Note

  • You can source wild boar from game meat suppliers, speciality butchers and even online. (Local wild boar is easily available in the US, UK and Australia.) However, this recipe works with any wild game, including venison, hare and even duck.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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