Wild Boar Stew – Spezzatino di Cinghiale
Umbria is a landlocked region, and because of that, meat, particularly pork, beef, and lamb, are extremely popular. Umbrians also eat a lot of game, including wild boar, pigeons, pheasant, rabbit and hare. I have to admit, that I have never been one to get very adventurous with game, and the few times I tried wild boar, known as cinghiale, in a restaurant I was not terribly impressed. It has been hunting season here in Umbria this past month, cinghiale season in fact, and every weekend we see the hunters up and down our road hunting wild boar. Earlier this week we had a knock on our door and it was one of the locals who gifted us with the hind quarter of a cinghiale much to my dismay. Having never cooked wild boar myself, I honestly didn’t know what to do with it but thank goodness for the internet. I did a quick search to see if there were anything speacial I needed to do with our cinghiale to prepare it, and read that it was best turned into stew, and simply cook it in sauce long and slow. I got out the slow cooker, onions, celery, and garlic, and had my husband cut the meat into pieces and trim it.
We browned the meat in a large frying pan first, then threw everything into our slow cooker and set the timer for 8 hours. After the cooking time was up, the meat was falling apart so we knew it was ready to eat. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised, as the stew was very tasty and the overall flavor of the stew was great. Though we ordinarily would serve this stew over polenta, we decided simply to eat it from the bowl as is with a sprinkling of gremolata on top. Gremolata is a combination of lemon zest, garlic, parsley that I find really brings braised meats and stews to life. Traditionally served on Osso Buco, I also like it on braised pork or lamb shanks, or hearty stews like this one.
Our fridge was a little bare after our recent trip to Puglia, but feel free to add chopped carrots, and even mushrooms to this stew as well. If you are not lucky enough to find wild boar, you could certainly substitute an equal amount of stewing beef for the boar. To cook the stew stovetop instead of a slow cooker, simply slowly simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours in a flame-proof covered casserole.
Deborah Mele 2012
Wild Boar Stew
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 8 hrs
Wild boar becomes quite tender when cooked in a slow cooker.
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Medium Onions, Peeled & Coarsely Chopped
2 Celery Stalks, Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
2 Pounds Wild Boar Meat, Trimmed & Cubed
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Dry Wine, Red or White
1 (28-ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
2 Bay Leaves
Zest of 1 Large Lemon
1 Large Garlic Clove, Peeled
3 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Parsley
In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil and then brown the meat on all sides turning frequently.
Add the meat to your 6 Quart slow cooker, then add the celery, onions, and garlic to the frying pan and lightly brown.
Place the vegetables in the slow cooking along with the meat.
Deglaze the frying pan by pouring in the wine and over high heat use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves to the frying pan and bring to a boil.
Taste the sauce, then season with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and set the times on low for eight hours.
Just before serving, finely mince together the topping ingredients.
Serve the stew on polenta, or in bowls with a sprinkling of gremolata on top.