Being back in my mother’s skirts in her kitchen, amidst her copper pots and well-worn wooden spoons, has definitely been the highlight of our trip as far as I’m concerned. I learned how to cook sitting by her side as a child, earning increasing responsibilities as my abilities increased. I started out observing, then graduated to chopping baguettes in time for dinner.
Every night as I aided with little tasks, I soaked in her techniques, her improvised sauces and the little finishing touches that brought it all together like the squeeze of lemon or the spoonful of creme fraiche. When I went off to college, I matured into my own as a cook, cooking up half a dozen scallops with beurre blanc sauce before going out to keg parties.
Now that I’m a mother, I treasure the infrequent opportunities to be a guest at my mother’s table again, the rare moments to sit perched by her side at the stove, writing down her last minute additions to the sauce bubbling up on the range in my notebook. But mostly, I just enjoy the final reward: the dinner feast.
Here in the country, a lot of what ends up on the table used to run around in the woods behind the house. Most weekends during the fall are spent hunting, filling up the house freezers with wild boar, duck breasts, and entire pheasants. They actually have a stone larder at the back of the house which is quite cool where I was startled to discover dozens of hanging ducks and pheasants during my last visit here.
My mother saved the wild boar leg for our second night. It was a huge piece of meat, almost as long as her arm. She saved the hoof in an attempt to scare her American guests. We must be perverse because it only added to our excitement, kids included. They were all clamoring for their share of the wild pig, and were crushed when I put them to bed before it was ready. The next morning, they requested it for breakfast, and when I finally served it to them at lunch, they all had second and then third helpings.
Wild boar tasted a little like pulled pork, with a crunchy caramel like exterior. The sauce was nothing like barbecue, of course, but was equally addicting.
I’m fairly sure you don’t have any wild boar sitting in your freezers to make this recipe… but it would probably be quite good for a hearty pork roast.
For the boar:
Haunch of Wild Boar
Thyme (fresh if possible)
Rosemary (fresh if possible)
For the sauce:
2 onions, minced
1 liter of red wine
1/2 cup of cranberry sauce (confiture d’airelles)
1/2 cup of honey
1 tablespoon of demi-glace veal stock
To make the boar:
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. (150 degrees centigrade)
2) Sprinkle a little olive oil in a saucepan. Brown the boar on all sides.
3) Mix the honey, olive oil, thyme and rosemary together to make a pommade in a bowl.
4) Rub the boar on all sides with a the oil and honey mixture.
5) Place the browned boar in a sturdy aluminum pan with about 1/2 inch of water on the bottom.
6) Cook in oven for about 3 hours, applying more honey mixture every 15 minutes.
For the sauce:
1) Mince the onions and saute over low heat in sauce pan until translucent.
2) Add red wine, cranberry sauce, honey, veal stock, and salt and pepper to taste.
3) Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes, until thick and reduced.