This Roast Wild Boar recipe comes from 1669, from Sir Kenelm Digby. This recipe is highly recommended for any winter evening meal, but because wild boar is becoming increasingly popular around Christmas, it is far easier to source this meat at this time of the year, and being a rare heritage meat it makes for a really special course on a Christmas feast menu.
Wild boar is reared by specialist farmers in Britain intent on keeping rare breeds available to the award winning butcher’s and in supplying the meat to quality restaurants; and because it remains a commercial meat, it actually helps the breeding program and breeding stocks by purchasing it to eat. The more commercial wild boar becomes, the greater the increase in animal numbers on farms, and the less rare it becomes.
In Britain all of our new breeding stocks of Wild Boar come from Europe, (Poland etc.) after we hunted them into extinction here hundreds of years ago. But what is genuine wild boar meat? Well at the moment in Britain the best wild boar comes imported from Europe, where wild breeding stocks are still high. Alternatively wild boar is farmed in this country but you have to be careful when sourcing it, some farmers mix rare breed pigs into the breeding stock of wild boars, so as to improve fecundity and handling. This means that it is no longer a true wild boar; however the meat is significantly cheaper, and it is still quite close in terms of taste to the European wild boar, if you wish to purchase it.
Sir Kenelm Digby’s Roast Wild Boar Recipe From 1669
TO ROST WILD-BOAR
At Franckfort, when they rost Wild-boar (or Robuck or other Venison) they lay it to soak, six or eight or ten days (according to the thickness and firmness of the piece and Penetrability of it) in good Vinegar, wherein is Salt and Juniper-berries bruised (if you will, you may add bruised Garlick or what other Haut-goust you like) the Vinegar coming up half way the flesh, and turn it twice a day. Then if you will, you may Lard it.
When it is rosted, it will be very mellow and tender.
Roast Wild Boar Recipe
Sir Kenelm Digby is perhaps my favourite historical recipe author, he was actually making notes for himself in the early 1600s and not for a book; the recipes only became a cook-book several years after his death in 1669. What I particularly like is his ability to give you a wonderful recipe and then allow you to spice or season it how you know best. Along with everything Sir Digby recommends we are going to add in herbs and spices that traditionally go very well with roast pork and wild boar.
- 2kg Wild Boar Roasting Joint (skin on, good layer of fat)
- 100g juniper berries (bruised)
- 40g lard (softened)
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 750ml of water
- 250ml Cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 2 tbsp of sea salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper and 2 tsp sea salt (for the rub)
- 1 tsp of allspice berries (lightly crushed)
- 1 tsp of ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
- 4 bay leaves
- handful fresh sage leaves
The day before: in a deep plastic container, which will hold the joint of meat, add the water, cider vinegar, 2 tbsp of sea salt, bruised juniper berries and the bruised bulb of garlic (lightly crushed). Because this is a vinegar brine use a plastic container and not a metal container. Add the allspice, ground ginger, nutmeg, bay leaves and some fresh sage leaves. Mix and let the salt dissolve. Into this brine place the joint of wild boar, make sure it is fully covered in the brine, put a lid on the container or cover it in foil, leave covered in the fridge for 24 hours.
On the day: The Wild Boar Joint will take 4 hours to roast.
Preheat the oven to 250C
Take the wild boar joint out of the brine and vinegar, drain and pat the rind dry all over with some paper kitchen towel. Using a sharp knife score the rind at intervals of 5mm all over making a diamond pattern. Rub all over with the salt and pepper seasoning, massaging it into the cuts.
In a heavy a roasting tin grease it with the softened lard, scatter some bay and sage leaves, and some bruised garlic with 2 tbsp of water all from the soaking brine you used. Lay the pork on top of a rack (so it is off the bottom of the tray) skin side up.
Roast in the preheated oven at 250C for 20 minutes, until the skin starts to crispen.Then turn oven down to 150C
After this first 20 minutes carefully pull the roasting tray out of the oven, tilt slightly and spoon off most of the rendered fat, leave about 2 tbsp. Cover with foil or put the lid on the roasting tray. Place back in the oven, (now at a low temperature, 150C) and roast for another 4 hours, until the meat is very tender. Several times during the cooking time lift the foil or roasting tray lid and baste the joint with the pan juices.
When cooked after 4 hours, take out the roasting tray, turn the oven back up to 250C. Carefully slice off the rind from the joint in one piece and place it on a flat baking sheet, greased with a little vegetable oil. Cover the wild boar joint loosely with the foil once more and allow to cool somewhere. Put the removed rind, uncovered, back into the hot oven for 10 minutes to crisp up and turn into a golden crackling. Remove it from the oven once crisp and break up into golden shards.
Remove the roasted wild boar joint once rested for 20 minutes and slice thickly. Strain the pan roasting juices through a fine sieve, into a gravy boat or small bowl. If the pan juices are too thin, boil to reduce, or make up a traditional cider gravy (see below). Serve with seasonal steamed vegetables.
For A Cider Gravy
- 300ml good quality cider
- 300ml Chicken Stock
- pan-roasting juices
- 1 tbsp flour
- salt and pepper to season
From the roasting tray pour off all put 2 tbsp of the oil/fat, (to dispose) leaving the roasting juices behind, and put the roasting tray over a medium heat on the cooker hob. Stir in the flour and cook, gently stirring and scraping the burnt on caramelised and roasted bits into the flour, and roasting juices.
Pour in the cider, bring to a simmer and continue to gently stir and scrape the bottom of the roasting tray. Now tip all of this into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the cider by half as it bubbles away. Pour in the chicken stock, stir and reduce again by half until it is a light, gravy consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper, strain through a fine sieve, to remove any of the lumps and leaves etc., into a jug or gravy boat.