Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
5 Nov

Braised Wild Boar with Sauerkraut and Bacon

braisedboar1With all the pork products that are readily available at the market, is it really necessary to seek out wild boar? Hunters who kill and butcher wild boar with their own hands so they can smoke, slow-roast or pan-fry the meat for its intensely satisfying pork flavor would say yes. So would chefs who prize boar for adding variety to the menu and for elevating dishes like cassoulet and Bolognese sauce with its rich flavor. With a taste that is similar to regular pork but more intense and a texture that is richer, wild boar is something that all meat lovers should try at least once.

Boars are ancestors of the domesticated pig and have existed since before the Ice Age. In many parts of the world, boar has been part of a traditional diet for centuries although it’s still considered a novelty in the US. When domesticated pigs were brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers some escaped from farms, becoming wild, feral pigs. In the early 1900s, wild boars from Europe and Asia were brought to the US and released on hunting preserves and again, some escaped to freedom. Over time, the feral pigs and wild boars intermingled and created a hybrid breed in the US.

These days, how wild is the wild boar that’s sold in stores and restaurants? At least in the US, some of the “wild” boar you’re buying might actually be farm-raised, or in many cases ranch-raised. Ideally, this means the animals are not penned and are free to roam and eat as they would in their natural habitat. In some cases, they are even slaughtered in the field rather than caught and brought in for slaughter. In many states, boars have become such a nuisance that hunters are allowed to capture them alive from the wild and then bring the boars to slaughterhouses approved by the USDA.

Boar meat has the deep, meaty flavor and darker color that separates most types of game from domesticated meat. Like most game meat, boar is lean and runs the risk of becoming tough if not cooked properly. Boar steaks and medallions can be pan-seared or grilled to medium rare, which usually means only a few minutes of cooking on each side. The safest bet, though, is slow-cooking boar at a low heat, resulting in meat that is so tender it just falls apart. Braised Wild Boar with Sauerkraut is a hearty dish, but the tangy kraut contrasts perfectly with the rich meat. Bacon is added to make the dish even more savory and a few bay leaves and cloves are thrown in for aromatics and delicate flavor. It’s a richly satisfying meal that doesn’t require many ingredients or much work.

If you’re ready to walk on the wild side, wild boar is worth seeking out. Try special ordering it from your butcher or check online for mail order suppliers.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

ingredients 25

  • 1-2 pounds wild boar leg or shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • One 25-ounce jar sauerkraut, drained
  • 2 cups white wine (try Riesling) or stock
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions:

Whisk together the mustard, olive oil, garlic and salt. Rub all over the meat. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

marinating boar

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F or set slow cooker to low.

In an oven-proof pot or a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon pieces. Just before the bacon gets crispy add the shallot.

Add the boar to the pot, browning on all sides. If needed, add a few tablespoons of olive oil or lard as the meat browns.

browning meat

The sauerkraut does not have to be rinsed, but can be if you want to mellow the tangy flavor. Add the sauerkraut, wine or stock, cloves, and bay leaves to the pot.

braising

Cover the pot and place in the oven or transfer ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook until very tender, turning meat a few times. In the oven, it will take 2-3 hours, in the slow cooker 4-6 hours.

braisedboar1

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. You know what would also work with this recipe? Bear meat. Similar to wild boar, but closer to venison than pork in flavour – still sweetish, so the sauerkraut will work, but with a hint of woodland and fantastic texture.

    Sarah wrote on November 5th, 2011
    • Where do YOU buy bear? I’ve never tried bear or boar in my entire life…maybe soon!

      Primal Toad wrote on November 5th, 2011
      • You can’t buy it, you have to shoot it yourself or know someone who does. I have a friend who regularly hunts bear (there’s a lot of them around here, he’s in no danger of depleting the population) for meat. He makes sausages and gives me some of the leaner cuts (beggars can’t be choosers) and it makes great stew – even on my current low-food-reward protocol, it’s still really nice stew. But the recipe above would be awesome with bear so I’m going to save the rest of what I’ve got until I finish with my low food reward experiment and then make this dish!

        Sarah wrote on November 5th, 2011
        • You say bear is similar to venison. I have been misinformed if that’s true. Bear hunters of which I’ve known only a few have told me bear meat is fairly greasy because of the amount of fat they have(I don’t know). I eat venison regularly though since we’re over run with deer. I love it and cook it in various ways. I take the tenderloin and sautee it with a light coating of spiced and herbed crumbs of flour coating in olive oil. If there’s anything better, I haven’t found it. It simply melts in your mouth. I admit I generally have a few hanging once a year because I wait for cold weather so I can age it as long as possible. Six weeks of aging is great if you have the weather cooperate. In west Texas where I live that often is not possible but timing it to a long spell of cold in January generally often let’s us let it hang with the hide on for a month. When it comes to hogs I have only harvested sows taking people’s word that the boars are too rank. I have probably been screwing up since I’ve had people tell me that about venison, a meat that’s much better than our home grown beef. If you have any information about eating wild boar I’d appreciate it. I just hauled off a boar weighing well over 300 lbs a hunter on my land shot the evening before. I was tired and my arthritis was too bad for me to field dress it that evening. Please, if anyone eats wild boar, let me know how you treat it immediately following a kill. We are over run with wild hogs also. The sows we have slaughtered were excellent. It sounds like I have been letting people who don’t know how to properly slaughter an animal keep me from eating a very good meat.

          Brent wrote on November 12th, 2011
  2. I’d have thought over in the States, hunted boar/feral pig meat must be about as close to a perfectly ethical meat as you can get from a sustainability standpoint too; actively helping remove invasives from the environment, and getting healthy, wild meat into the bargain.

    tai haku wrote on November 5th, 2011
    • Yeah seriously, boars are SUPER destructive to the environment.

      cTo wrote on November 5th, 2011
  3. Bacon AND sauerkraut? I’m on it.

    Abel James wrote on November 5th, 2011
  4. New convert to paleo here, just wanted to say this looks totally awesome! And I agree with Sarah – bear meat is totally incredible. I know because we had one hanging around our chickens all day when I was a kid and it would not go away and acted aggressive so my dad shot it and we used the meat. If you can get it it’s wonderful.

    ladycopper5 wrote on November 5th, 2011
    • Welcome to the tribe. Your life just changed my friend. Enjoy the ride!

      Primal Toad wrote on November 5th, 2011
      • Thanks so much :-) It already has changed a bunch – the unconquerable sugar cravings – gone! A foot injury I thought would bother me the rest of my life – much better! Lost a bunch of inches and weight already. Routinely aching joints – gone! And so many other things I cannot believe – all in, hmm, 10 days. I never thought getting rid of wheat would be so life changing…

        ladycopper5 wrote on November 5th, 2011
  5. This sounds wonderful, My SO is on a quest now :-) I’m not sure bear would be a good substitute in a recipe that calls for lean meat. Bear is very greasy. Bear and Boar are similar in temperament, mean.

    bbuddha wrote on November 5th, 2011
  6. I think I can get wild boar at Sprouts. Anyone know how this recipe would be with something like beef brisket instead?

    Sara wrote on November 5th, 2011
  7. Wild boar and bear are not the same thing, or were these comments regarding two different recipes.

    irenevanasten wrote on November 5th, 2011
    • No, they’re not the same thing at all – but if you live someplace where there are no boars, but there are bears, the recipe would be equally good with bear.

      Sarah wrote on November 5th, 2011
    • You mean feral pigs and bears didn’t form hybrid bear-pigs? Damn there goes all the fun!

      Devin wrote on November 5th, 2011
      • Then Al Gore captured a hybrid bear-pig and used tax payer money and government scientists to create Man Bear Pig.

        liberty1776 wrote on November 6th, 2011
  8. This looks delicious. I can’t believe how little bacon I ate before going primal.

    Damon wrote on November 5th, 2011
  9. Now I know what to do with that chunk of bear (from a friend of a friend who hunts) that has been sitting in my freezer for far too long. Cooking it with this recipe should restore it to tastiness! My German mother will be so envious!

    Chica wrote on November 5th, 2011
  10. Ive been experimenting with a crock pot my mom gave me. I start with a stew, but then last night I slow cooked some mutton and it was awesome. This looks totally manageable, I definitely will ask around my butcher shops for boar.

    cTo wrote on November 5th, 2011
  11. Looks amazing – I also love the bit in the Omnivore’s Dilema where he shoots a wild boar and cooks it over a wood stove. In the UK the boar population is growing so hopefully we will have more to eat!

    Ian wrote on November 5th, 2011
  12. I don’t imagine I will do this. But who knows.

    I once had a wonderful boss who had been in charge of controlling wild boar at a national forest. She was half British and very funny. It was hard to imagine her being in charge of good old boy pig hunters. LOL

    Harry Mossman wrote on November 5th, 2011
  13. Must get hands on boar NOW…

    Rebecca wrote on November 5th, 2011
  14. Back in 97 I had the opportunity to eat in the oldest restaurant in Munich, the Hundskugel. On a whim I had the “wildeschwein” (wild pig) and it was one of the best meals I ever had. I wish I know how to get that recipe…or even boar in general!

    glorth2 wrote on November 5th, 2011
  15. I’m going to try this with pork shoulder and home made krout!

    PaleoDentist wrote on November 5th, 2011
    • Do tell about the home made krout …

      Suzanne wrote on November 5th, 2011
  16. I’ve never seen Wild Boar on sale. Where do you get it?

    Tatianna wrote on November 6th, 2011
  17. Paleo brand newbie over here, and SO EXCITED to begin trying these recipes, wherein fat is not the enemy. BTW, people looking for wild boar should talk to any Southern friends they may have. In south GA there are many, many backroad grocers that stock/supply it.

    Alison wrote on November 6th, 2011
  18. Better yet, ferment your own sauerkraut instead of using it out of a jar (likely made with vinegar and not fermented at all). It is incredibly easy and delicious.

    On the other hand, the point of homemade sauerkraut is to eat it “live”, without cooking it which kills the probiotics….

    Remnant wrote on November 6th, 2011
    • Agreed – I’ve moved on from the jars now as the taste is not the same as DIY sauerkraut!

      Luke M-Davies wrote on November 7th, 2011
  19. Going to try this with pork mince.

    I’ll just cook it a bit less.

    Onge wrote on November 9th, 2011
  20. I would like to point out that you don’t have to have a “boar” to accomplish these recipes. A boar refers to a mature, wild male pig. If you hunt these like we do…well, we trap them live more than we hunt them, but…you will do just as well with a female. In fact, if you do have a male, you must take care to properly bleed the meat before cooking, and when you do cook, you have to pay attention to spicing and cooking methods if you don’t want the game taste to overpower.

    You have a lot more testosterone and other hormones with an adult male pig, and they don’t alway agree with the palate, no matter how “gamey” you think you like your meat.

    So, yes…boar=delicious, sow=delicious, young wild pig=delicious. Just watch out if you meet one in the wild. They are extremely dangerous and will attack – and they will win. Trust.

    If you really want a great wild meat experience, try Axis Deer. We eat that more than any other meat, and if it was the only thing I ever ate for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly content.

    Andrea wrote on November 10th, 2011
  21. I’m pretty new to Primal Blueprint. But, I do have a pig guy. A friend of mine has a lot of land and the feral pigs tear it up so he traps them and puts them in a pen and when I want one he has a guy go out and kill one. The smaller pigs around 100lbs are great! I really did’t know how to cook them. I ended up putting the piece or pieces in a roasting pan covering them with herbs (whatever I find in my cupboard that sounds good) throw a bottle of beer in the bottom, put it in the oven at 250 degrees and let it cook all day long. I couldn’t believe how good it was. Just don’t remove and excess fat. They are really lean and it usually renders down quite a bit. Otherwise, if you do remove the fat you get the possibility of it being dry.

    jada115 wrote on January 6th, 2012
  22. Ordered some wild boar, and made this in the slow cooker – it was awesome! And the way it made the kitchen smell…heaven!

    Milla wrote on February 13th, 2012

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