December 16, 2015

Daube of Wild Boar

Two views of the whole shoulder
While I know everyone wants to know my thoughts on the second round of elections...patience is required. Should have something by the end of the weekend. You can read my reaction after the first-round here. And then judge the wisdom and accuracy of my observations.

When you get a phone call asking if you want a shoulder of wild boar, do you really have a choice? The answer pretty much has to be "yes," right? Even when your friend says it is the shoulder that took the bullet. Even when he says it weighs about seven pounds. Even when you've never butchered something that big before. Even when you've never cooked wild boar (though you have eaten it). It just has to be yes.

So what do you do? First, you clean up your kitchen. Second, you sharpen your knives. And third, you just make it up as you go along, hacking away until, at last, there is no more meat on the bones. 

Once the dirty work was complete, I cut up the larger pieces into rough cubes, weighed out 350+ gram portions for freezing, and took a healthy 400 or 500 grams to make into a stew. I cracked a couple of old-school Burgundy cookbooks for some ideas. 

You may wish to sit down for the surprise I am about to unleash on you. All the recipes I consulted, from Burgundy, called for using abundant red Burgundy wine. I, too, was shocked. This was like using clams in clam chowder or cheese in cheeseburgers. Just a crazy idea.
Remember, it's wild. Hair included.

Truth is, of course, that most of the best Burgundian cooking features a few essential ingredients. Boeuf bourguignon, oeufs en meurette, coq au vin...all feature red Burgundy wine; lardons, the little bacon bits that are as critical to French life as bread; carrots; mushrooms; and onions. You can put those ingredients together and add anything and it turns out delicious. Slowly braise some sneakers in that mixture and Nike à la française would be a new culinary sensation. Trust me.

So I marinated the boar overnight in red wine and aromatics, helping to tenderize it and mitigate some of the potential gaminess of the flesh. I drained the meat, seared it, removed it from the pan, and deglazed with the marinade. The boar went back in and a few hours later, I turned off the heat. This is why the classic sauce is such a huge success in this region. Historically, the women of the area would put a pot like that on the woodstove in the morning, letting it slowly cook until lunch time. When the family paused at noon for their meal, after working the farm, their delicious repast was ready.

I let it sit in its sauce overnight, and gently reheated it the next evening for dinner. While mine may not have been deserved in the same way that those field laborers deserved their calories, it sure was delicious.

In Paris last weekend, a chef friend told me that he had made an excellent wild boar daube at his restaurant. In my collasal arrogance and ignorance, I bragged that I had just recently made a civet of wild boar, the recipe I had followed. He asked if I knew the difference between the two. I said no. He said the sauce for the civet was heightened by the addition of the animal's blood. I quickly told him I had made an excellent daube

I am already excited for the next round.
The finished product.


  1. I think you have started to compete with some famous restaurants !...
    You'll soon be able to open your proper one !...
    xoxo - cabidge cabidge

  2. Ha! This took multiple days and I was tired when it was done. Went to a resto last night where they do a little bit more than this in an evening...stay tuned.

  3. I'm Michel's "step-daughter", otherwise known as "My partner Don's daughter, Katie". I'm so glad Margo shared with Michel and I can get a slice of your cooking heaven. I'm a wannabe chef and so passionate about all things good. While boar isn't on my menu yet this post is fantastic and loving the dip into Parisian culture. The answer is always more wine...

  4. The man who gave me the boar told me that I should try une omelette au sang. "A blood omelet?" I asked. He said, "Sure, it has the consistency of boudin. Take the blood from the boar and mix it into eggs. It's very fortifying!" No matter how long I live here, there will always be new culinary adventures to try. Thanks for reading! -ML