Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a dish with a fancy name and a fancier presentation can also be soul-satisfying comfort food. This seemingly hoity-toity recipe is, at its most base form, an open-faced pulled pork sandwich. The ingredients married together create a taste profile that is wholly sumptuous and ever so necessary. I fell in love after first bite and promised myself that I’d make this one on repeat and revel in the glory as much as possible.
I use wild boar shoulder for this recipe, and thought the cut can take some time to braise until tender, I speed up the process with a trip to the pressure cooker. If you can’t get boar, simply substitute pork shoulder – the taste won’t be nearly as rich, but you’ll still be able to get down. Once the meat is shredded and cooled a bit, it rejoins the party on a raft of ciabatta, sharp provolone and a zesty homemade lemon aioli. Miner’s lettuce serves as an interesting counterpoint for the unctuous boar and salty cheese – it’s texture alone, similar to spinach, adds the fresh finesse that makes this one a stunner. Although this dish is an appetizer, just know that if you serve this dish first, chances are very good that people will fill up on these suckers with reckless abandon without a thought of saving room for anything else. They are just. that. good.
Pulled Boar Panini with Miner’s Lettuce and Lemon Aioli
1 lb. wild boar shoulder, cut into 2-3 large chunks
4 c. of chicken stock
1 fennel bulb, quartered
1 onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of fennel pollen
2 cl. of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. of dijon mustard
1/2 c. of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. of miner’s lettuce, stems removed
1 1/2 c. of sharp provolone cheese, shredded
1 loaf of ciabatta
Begin by preparing the wild boar. Add the boar, fennel, onion, stock, fennel pollen and bay leaves to a pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure and then allow to cook for 30 minutes. Let the pressure subside naturally and remove boar from cooking liquid. Shred with two forks and set aside.
Now make the aioli. Add the egg, lemon, zest and mustard to a blender. Blitz on high and slowly stream in the olive oil. Turn off blender and taste for salt and pepper. The aioli should be pretty loose and not as thick as a traditional mayonnaise, so thin with additional olive oil if necessary. Set aside.
Halve the ciabatta lengthwise and spread with some of the aioli, saving a few tablespoons for drizzling. Top with the shredded boar and add the provolone to the top. Bake in the oven on 400° until the cheese has melted. Remove the two ciabatta loaves to a cutting board and cut into 8 pieces for each loaf. Sprinkle miner’s lettuce liberally over the top of the panini and drizzle with additional aioli. Serve while still standing, eating it right from the kitchen and not stopping to take it to the table.