Cannot even begin to tell you how much I adore this menu. Yes, it is a challenge and yes, you’ll probably want a couple of hands to help with the staging, prep and cooking. But it’s well worth the effort in that it is no less than glorious.
The concept of the Feast of the Seven Boars was born as both a riff off of the Feast of the Seven Fishes and an excuse to pay homage to one of my favorite proteins, wild boar. Without all of the religious undertones, our feast was focused on the loving and careful preparation of an ingredient so worthy of a spotlight. While both beef and poultry are offered as myriad unique cuts and varieties (you’ve got your kobe, your poussin and your capon at the grocery store down the street), pork is offered as a bland, flavorless option with both the fat and the taste bred out in one fell swoop. As far as I’m concerned, “the other white meat” campaign is a form of sacrilege. It’s no wonder that so many Americans eschew the idea of eating pork, what with the options in front of them so horribly tasteless.
I had a silent celebration the moment I spotted wild boar in the online store for Marx Foods – thoughts of what to do with 17 pounds of wild boar shoulder roast in all its rosy glory was blissful. Rather than give in to the giddiness, I got to work crafting a series of recipes that would make good use of the meat. Given that it holds up to cooking, I decided to go with braises, roasts and ground preparations to showcase the tender, meltingly gorgeous meat.
Many of the recipes were born of my time spent in Orvieto, a champion of a city in terms of featuring wild boar in the best of preparations. Recipes were slightly tweaked to make room for the boar, like my Post-Thanksgiving Stuffed Mushrooms with boar in lieu of sausage, and boar instead of pork in the bolognese and meatballs. We bolstered the meat feast with seasonal veggies like miner’s lettuce, stinging nettles and fiddlehead ferns. We also had some help from the experts, to include Eric Ripert’s Cinghiale Dolce Forte and Ciao Bella’s Straciatella Gelato. We rounded out the meal with a bottle of chilled limoncello, bowled over by the fact that boar was such a special treat rather than a shop standard. Oh, well. Someday. But until then, consider gathering a group of hungry foodie friends, some wild boar and a few days of sheer dedication for one of the most glorious pay offs in terms of feasts. Mangia!