Friday, March 29, 2013

Wild Boar Ragù

On a cold winter night, nothing beats a hearty, meaty sauce for pasta. I recently had access to two wild boar loins out west, and having recently made a pulled-beef "bolognese" of sorts at home in VT, I knew EXACTLY what I had to do with these little guys: make one of my all-time favorite dishes (pre-no-gluten) to order at an Italian restaurant, Pappardelle al Ragù Di Cinghale or Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu.

This is shockingly easy, and the rewards are tremendous. I made this with rice spaghetti and fusilli, but I find it best with pappardelle (I'm still looking for rice pappardelle, good luck...). It will serve 8 easily, with extras for lunch or dinner the next day or two. Serve with a hearty green salad.

Wild Boar Ragu
4 cups tomato sauce:
  3 tbsp olive oil
  1 small yellow onion, chopped
  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  1 stalk celery, chopped
  40-ounces canned whole tomatoes
  1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  3 bay leaves 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices bacon, rendered
2 pounds boneless wild boar meat, such as tenderloins
1 cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah
1 tbsp dried chili flakes
Cocoa powder, to taste (I used about a tablespoon)
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
3 sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste

For the sauce, heat olive oil until warm over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent and vegetables tender. Add the tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat, partially covered, for 45 minutes to an hour. Set aside.

In a large cast-iron pot, heat the oil and add the bacon, cooking until the fat is rendered. Add the boar and gently brown. Add the tomato sauce, red wine, and seasonings and vinegar, to taste. Bring to a boil. Return to low heat.

Place in a 300-degree oven (at 8000 ft; 250 at sea level) for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is very tender. The longer you simmer the dish, the tenderer the meat will become.

The ragù is ready to eat when the meat has totally fallen apart and the meat has absorbed most of the liquid. Take out the cinnamon stick and bay leaves before serving.

Serve over a wide pasta of your choice and top with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese. Accompany with some crusty peasant bread and a good red wine, preferably a strong Italian, like Amarone or Barolo.

Even the puppies know what is going on ;)

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