Monday, 20 July 2009

Leg of Wild Boar - Sanglier

One wild boar leg marinaded for 3 days

6 hours later, a smoking on the BBQ

Some elegant carving

Served at sunset with some griddled accompaniments

On a recent visit to a sleepy village in Provence, my hosts presented me with my first leg of wild boar to cook. The 'Sanglier' had been given by our forthcoming dinner guests, who had shot the boar in neighbouring La Garde Adhemar.

My first consideration in giving this gift the treatment it rightly deserved was to marinade the meat for as long as possible. A few logistical issues of not having a bowl big enough to marinade it, the old mini oven wasn't working properly and the fact the leg wouldn't actually fit in the said oven, were minor details; "Oh just BBQ it" said the hosts.

A bottle of local merlot, a couple of heads of garlic and all the local herbs I could gather, with a small fistful of peppercorns and a big black bin liner sat on the bottom shelf of the fridge with a ritualistic morning massage through the bin bag.

Not having extra wide foil to keep the heat in; the leg not fitting in the oven....... I ummed and arred during the 3 days of marinade as to how confident I felt about BBQing this 6 kilo lump.

On the day of cooking, my host (incidently a vegetarian) took some tree surgeon branch cutters to trim the last 4cms of bone off. Now the leg would fit in the mini oven, which incidently did work, but at what temperature, God only knows. This option failing I would have dug a hole in the ground and built a fine on top. Luckily it didn't come to that, but none the less a good lesson in thinking how to cook our spoils without the usual 21st Century gagets. Some bushcraft skills may have been called upon, even if only as far as emergency planning......

I opted for my favourite method of cooking, which is a long, low and slow roast. After 3 days marinading, the leg was deep red. I simply popped it onto a ludicrously small roasting tin, with as much marinade as would fit in the tin and a piece of foil to help keep what dubious heat was there to stay where I wanted it. Into the mini oven at a temperature I would guess to be 100 -120C. Timings, temperatures and all the usual reference points had long gone out of the window. The delerious smells told us all that something remarkable was unfolding.

Here the leg roasted for 6 hours. As the BBQ was alight to griddle the courgettes and figs, it seemed a good idea to anoint the leg with some smokey charcoal flavour. The whole meal was an improvisation and that's how these kind of cook-ups should be.

The griddled figs were a complement to the gamey, robust flavour of the boar. For the sauce I simply made a little roux and fed the cooking juices and extra marinade to it. I added some water and a little lemon juice to bring down the overwhelming intensity. Some plum, fig or red currant jam would not have gone amiss; anything in fact that I could imagine the wild boar foraging for.

Our guests who had brought this leg, carved the joint with no small amount of skill, deftly removing the bone and elegantly slicing it across the grain.

As the Provencal sun set there were murmers of approval and satisfaction. The simple rule of marinading and long, slow cooking triumphed once again.

Incidently my vegetarian host tucked in appreciatively!

I list the whole process below without the ramblings....
  • One leg of wild boar
  • 2 whole heads of garlic
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • Handfuls of marjoram, rosemary, sage, bayleaf, thyme, fennel fonds, juniper berries
  • For the sauce, 50gms butter, 50gms plain flour
  1. In a big roomy plastic or stainless steel bowl (or bin bag if that's all available) place the leg with all the marinade ingredients (garlic chopped up small).
  2. Leave in the fridge covered for 3 days, turning to ensure even coverage.
  3. Preheat the oven to 120C and place the leg in as room a roasting tin as you have and pour over as much of the marinade as possible. Cover with foil losely.
  4. Roast for 6 hours with periodic bastings to ensure the joint is moist.
  5. Allow to rest.
  6. To make the sauce, make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan and adding the flour. Allow to bubble for a minute.
  7. Remove from direct heat and slowly add the cooking juices, incorporating fully before adding more. Add the strained marinade as well if you have any.
  8. Check the flavour, and if too intense, add some water and a little lemon juice. Allow to come to the boil and simmer for a few minutes to thicken and reduce slightly.
  9. Taste Add some plum jam, or red currant jelly and serve.

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