We live in a region where wild boars are fairly common. During the winter months our local hunt go after the boar in order to keep their numbers under control and to prevent them doing considerable damage to the farmers’ crops. The French are very strict when it comes to shooting boar and they impose some hefty fines if for example the matriarch is killed. The reason for this is that it can result in a ‘population explosion’ creating an even bigger problem in the surrounding area as the family splits and new matriarchs are created.
Up until last year I had never seen a boar in our region and then in fairly quick succession I came across three. The first was a boar the size of an Alsatian that I ‘bumped’ into walking the dogs. Fortunately for me I didn’t have to climb a tree as the boar turned and ran off as soon as it saw us and our dogs do not have the quickest of reactions so there was no risk of them coming to any harm! The second was a young boar that ‘Biggles’ our springer spaniel put up in the woods. The last was probably the most special as I came across him twice within 24 hours. The first time, he confidently walked up to the small orchard one side of our house (not batting an eye at our neighbours dogs that were working themselves into a frenzy barking at him across the fields) to eat windfall plums under the trees (unfortunately I was not prepared to get too close to him to take a photo and my long lens was just not good enough…). However, it seemed this guy wanted his picture taken and the following morning, when driving home from the village, I came across him rootling in a neighbouring field. He was so engrossed in eating that I was able to go home, get my camera and take pictures from the safety of the car about 4-5 metres away.
It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to cook with wild boar, however, a few weeks ago a friend dropped by and gave us a large haunch. Having never cooked with boar before I sought the advice of one of our neighbours, who informed me that it is best cooked coated in mustard at about 190C for an hour. I decided to adopt the idea of the mustard coating, however, was somewhat concerned about the cooking times as the French are notorious for enjoying their meat cooked fairly rare. Consequently I decided to cook the joint in a similar way to how I cook a leg of lamb and I was very pleased with the outcome. I served it with potato and celeriac mash, which went well with the strong ‘gamey’ taste of the boar.
Roast haunch of wild boar in a mustard crust (serves 6-8 people)
- 1 haunch of wild boar (1.5 – 2kg)
- 4-5 carrots (halved lengthways)
- 1 potato (cut into chunks)
- 1 onion (halved)
- 2 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard)
- 150ml water
1. Place the carrots, potato and onion on the base of a large roasting tray to form a ‘bed’ on which to place the wild boar.
2. Mix together the wholegrain mustard and Dijon mustard together in a bowl.
3. Cover the wild boar completely with the mustard mix and then place on top of the vegetables.
4. Add the water to the pan, then roast in the oven at 220C fan for 20 minutes, before covering with tin foil and cooking at 170C fan for a further 90-120 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your meat.
5. Make sure you rest your meat in a warm place covered in tin foil for 15-30 minutes whilst you make your gravy. Do this by heating the juices in the bottom of the pan with some stock or vegetable water and adding little cornflour to thicken it (if needed add some honey or redcurrant jelly to lift the flavours a little).
Celeriac and potato mash
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
- 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
- 1/3 of a celeriac (roughly 200g in weight peeled, cut into chunks)
- knob of butter
- 5-6tbsp milk
- Place the potatoes and celeriac in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until a knife passes through both the potatoes and celeriac easily.
- Once they are cooked, drain them and return them to the saucepan.
- Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the vegetables until they are smooth. Serve.