Food Adventures

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wild Boar (take 2)

The second cinghiale recipe I made on Saturday is a stew common to the Maremma area of Tuscany. Before I discuss the recipe and my notes on it though, a short geography lesson is in order.

Maremma is the southwestern part of Tuscany, including the coastline and the town of Grosseto. It is famous for chestnuts, wild mushrooms, and game since much wild life lives in the mountains and hills. More recently, the Maremma has also become popular as a wine-producing region (more about that in a different post). The town of Grosseto is one of the most famous places for wild boar in all of Tuscany and the recipe below is one of the traditional ones.

Cinghiale alla Maremma (stewed wild boar Maremma-style)
(recipe modified from A Culinary Traveler in Tuscany: Exploring & Eating off the Beaten Track by Beth Elon; The Little Bookroom, 2006.)

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
2 pounds wild boar shoulder, cubed
1 ½ cups red wine (Chianti or other wine made in the Maremma area)
1 14-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
20 black olives, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil and the rosemary in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown well on all sides. Add salt, pepper, and wine. When the wine is reduced to about half, add the tomatoes, lower the flame and simmer covered for about 2 ½ hours, until the meat is very tender. Add the olives, taste for salt and pepper and serve over polenta.

8-10 cups water
2 cups coarsely-ground polenta (found in the bulk section of grocery stores)

In a heavy pot, bring water to a boil, add salt and slowly whisk in polenta (to avoid lumps). Lower heat and simmer slowly for about 3 hours. If polenta dries out too much and is in danger of burning, add a little more water throughout the cooking.
Cook's Note: most recipes for slow-cooking polenta say to cook it for 40 minutes. This is not nearly enough. The polenta might be o.k. to eat after 40 minutes, but the flavor really develops after at least 3 hours. I am grateful to Bill Bufford (the author of Heat) for confirming my intuition about polenta; in the book, he explains that in restaurant kitchens the polenta cooks for hours. This encouraged me to try the ‘put it on the stove and forget about it’ approach, which works beautifully.

The recipe is perfect for Saturday or Sunday dinner: you can put both the sauce and the polenta on the stove in the mid afternoon and enjoy the fantastic smells for hours while you’re doing other things.


At 4:00 PM CST, Blogger Maremmanews said...

hi interesting to read your blog, as i live here i take wildboar for granted! i was even hunting it the other day. The local hunts here this year took a total of 240 or more around Magliano in Toscana, anyway, good cooking. is my site you can see all things tuscany on there, including some wild boar hunt stuff.

At 4:31 PM CST, Blogger Viktorija said...

Hi, maremmanews, and thanks for the comment! Lucky you with all the available boar.

I enjoyed the photographs on your site. I hope to visit Maremma soon.


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