Boar Ragu with Pappardelle

Ever since a trip to Umbria last year when we ate a succulent wild boar ragu in an obscure village restaurant, I have had boar on my mind.  The ragu was served over a platter heaped with pappardelle. The meat was falling apart tender, dissolving in a rich wine sauce perfumed with juniper and cloves. Since then, that meal has been a popular conversation topic in our family when reflecting on our trip. So, I decided to try and make my own boar ragu.

Boar meat may be ordered from your butcher and, depending on where you live, you may find it in specialty stores that carry game meat. I ordered my meat from Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas, where they raise ranch-raised boar. The meat arrived frozen in a cooler box and I popped it into my freezer, so it would be ready when I devised a recipe.

The flavor of boar may be likened to a cross between pork and lamb. Boar meat is very lean and rich in protein. It has more protein than beef or pork and is lower in cholesterol than chicken. Not bad for an animal deemed an exotic pest in the U.S. Due to its mild gamey flavor and lack of fat, boar meat benefits from marinades and slow cooking, and it’s well matched with spirits and aromatic spices such as cloves and juniper.

Boar Ragu with Pappardelle

As the ragu simmers, the boar meat will absorb a good deal of the liquid. The ragu may be made up to 2 days in advance, allowing the flavors to develop with time. As an alternative to pasta, serve over polenta. Serves 4-6.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boar shoulder, cut in 1 inch chunks
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 large garlic cloves
1 – 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
2 cups full-bodied red wine
4 bay leaves
Bouquet garni: 1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries, 8 black peppercorns, 6 whole cloves, tied in cheese cloth with kitchen string

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Season boar all over with salt and pepper. Add boar to the skillet in batches and brown on all sides, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer meat to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Sauté onion, carrots and garlic, scraping up brown bits, until they begin to soften, 4 minutes. Return boar with any juices to the pan. Add tomatoes, red wine, bay leaves and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over very low heat, partially covered, until meat is falling tender and sauce is reduced by half, 2 hours. Serve with pappardelle and top with grated cheese.

16 thoughts on “Boar Ragu with Pappardelle

  1. This sounds quite amazing – never had boar. Thanks for the description of a cross between pork and lamb – makes it more appealing somehow. Why do I turn my nose up at meat I have never tried?! I have an oxtail ragu on my list as well to try…Another “first”.

  2. reading this has made me very hungry! sounds great – i speant some time in tuscany last summer and had some amazing boar pasta dishes, haven’t thought to try and recreate them, but you’ve made me want to eat some right now – so i guess it’s either to tuscany or to my butcher…

  3. So funny! I saw the title of your post and wondered, where did she find boar? I should have known! Jerry hunted with the owner of Broken Arrow last fall so we’ve had a few delicacies from there. Your ragu sounds great!

  4. On our honeymoon in Italy, my husband and I had something very similar to this recipe. I haven’t thought to recreat it, as I didn’t know where to find boar and low and behold, Broken Arrow is about two hours from where I live!! I love the recipe, and the low and slow method of braising the meat until it’s tender.

    Lovely post!

  5. Another winning post! I’ve been wanting to try out something with wild boar for so long. Thanks for letting all of us know where you procured it.

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