The joys of living in the 'crew house' in La Garde Freinet during the winter months, are many and various. True, we're not sailing but we need the break aswell as the boat does. Its a period of maintenance for 'Mariquita' and for us. The best of those joys being that we get weekends off to do things such as mountain biking in the hills which surround us and snowboarding in the nearest of the Alps. We've also been known to go foraging for mushrooms when they are in season, picking fresh, fat cep's in the French countryside. Which had me literally squeeling with delight.
Wild boar, speaking of squeeling, is very delicious and its here and sometimes, very occasionally, if you're as lucky as me, your handsome boyfriend whilst in his landrover, might come across a poor, unfortunate pig who has been knocked down by a car. They fit perfectly in the back of a Landy, dead wild boars.
Im very sorry if you happen to be a bit squeemish. You might not truely appreciate these photos but please believe me when I say how much fun it is butchering a whole, wild animal. Especially if you're not entirely sure what your doing. The only whole animal I ever butchered before (not including birds) was a goat in the Caribbean. But thats another story.
|Thats me doing my best|
Boar is delicious. Its full of flavour, not gamey if thats not your thing and takes on other flavours very well. I made a wild boar daube (a french casserole basically) with the meat from one leg and one shoulder to feed 10 for a dinner party. I have included my recipe on this blog for you. You can get wild boar in the UK but if you're struggling, you could easily substitute the boar with beef or venison and it would be just as delicious. We served our Daube with homemade tagliatelle.
Its really best to start making your daube 2-3 days in advance so that you can marinade the meat. It will absorb all the lovely flavours of the wine and herbs and orange zest. And gets you all excited about cooking it when the time is ready.
For 6-8 people you will need;
2-3 lb/900g-1kg meat, cubed into large sized pieces
bottle of red wine, a good rich one, all dark and spicey, a burgandy perhaps
couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
3-4 bits of orange peel (using a peeler but try not to get any pith)
12 black pepper corns, 12 juniper berries
8 cloves of garlic peeled and slightly squished with the blade of a knife
a few bay leaves
So put all the above ingredients in a nice wide, non-metallic dish and let it sit covered in the fridge for no less than a day, 2-3 if you can. Stir occasionally.
And when you're ready to go;
4 onions, sliced (as you like, thin or thick)
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
400 g bacon lardons, not smoked
4-5 carrots peeled and roughly chopped into nice sized chunks, not too small
bunch fresh thyme
few sprigs fresh rosemary
4 bay leaves
4 fresh pieces orange zest
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
extra red wine
4 tbsp cognac
good handful black olives
Drain the meat from the red wine its been sitting happily in for the last few days setting the wine aside for later. Sieve all the herbs out of the wine and discard.
In a large frying pan, sear and brown the boar over a high heat in olive oil and a small knob of butter. Do this in small batches so you dont over-crowd the pan which cools it down too much for searing. When the pieces are nicely browned all over, set aside. If you need to, add more oil.
Once you have seared all the boar, fry the lardons . Set aside with the boar.
Using the bacon fat, turn the heat down and gently sautee the onions for 10 minutes, then add the garlic. Continue sauteeing till the onions are starting to go a nice golden colour. Stir in the carrots.
After a few minutes frying the carrots you can return the bacon and boar to the pan. Turn the heat up a little so it all starts to have a nice sizzle.
Dob in the tomato puree and give it all a good stir. Add the sugar and some salt and pepper. Then add the red wine from the marinade, topping up with fresh red wine to cover or some beef stock.
Add all the remaining herbs and orange zest.
Cover and cook in the oven at gas mark 3 for about 4-5 hours.
Before serving the boar, ladle about as much of the liquid into a saucepan as you can. Bring to a rolling boil (a good bubbling boil) and stir in the cognac, a tablespoon of redcurrent jelly or crab apple if you have any and let it reduce and thicken. This should take about 20 minutes.
If you'd like to thicken the sauce further then put a tbsp of cornflour into a cup and add 2-3 tbsp of cold water to mix into a smooth, thin paste. then add 2-3 tbsp of the reduced, red wine sauce to the cup and mix. Pour it all back into the saucepan, stir till the cornflour has thickened the sauce and check for seasoning before finally returning your red wine sauce back into the casserole. Finish off by adding the black olives.
Always good to have another final seasoning check before serving the Daube with taglietelle, green salad and a nice hunk of fresh bread to mop up that delicious red wine gravy.
Enjoy! And by the way, there is no reason why you shouldn't cook and eat this in the coming summer months. Or maybe I really am just dragging my heels into summer this year. I've not even spent one night onboard yet and im missing my nice big bedroom, wardrobe and choice of 3 bathrooms already....
Thanks 'Crew House'. That was a great winter. See you again in October.