Where’s Winter?

18 Dec

Have I mentioned the kind of weather we’ve been having here in New York City? Yesterday, I went out in a sweater. I mean, I was wearing pants and shoes and a tee-shirt, but other than that all I wore was a sweater. On December 17th; no coat, no scarf, no hat, no gloves. This is weird people.

Jefferson Market

Usually around this date (a date I remember every year as it’s my mother’s birthday) we’re freezing, sometimes knee-deep in snow. The thing is, it may be warm, and yet, only one week away from Christmas, I’m craving serious wintertime food. Venison, boar, rabbit, polenta, gnocchi, breads, root vegetables, pickles, wine sauces, dried fruit. So despite the warmth, it was time to scratch that December itch.

After a full day of Christmas shopping I met up with the boy to forage for dinner. I was hoping for venison, which they had, but only in a stir fry pack. I used to go deer hunting with my father. We used to have venison nearly year-round in the freezer (one thing to note though is that the venison never came from our hunting trips, if you know what I mean), but it was always in big cuts, never little ones like this. I wanted a rack or a loin or a steak, not little slivers of meat!

Wild Boar Braised In Red Wine

So, rather than getting something I wanted in a way I didn’t, we settled on a mini-boar roast from Dartagnan. The recipe on the back of the package was complex, stupidly complex, to the point that we nearly didn’t buy it for fear that we wouldn’t be able prepare it properly. Luckily, we did, and when we got home, I checked their website and found a far more agreeable recipe, Slow-Cooked Wild Boar Roast, that had good technique, but not exactly the flavor profile I was looking for.

So, I did what I do best and improvised. I had some dried fruit, some leftover wine and fresh thyme. And on the side? Polenta and french fried carrots. French fried carrots? Yep, completely by chance I figured out a way to make roasted carrots even more awesome.

Wild Boar In Wine With French Fried Carrots

The meal was incredible, better than some game meals I’ve had at really expensive restaurants, perfect for two people craving a taste of winter.

So, even though it’s beginning to feel a lot like a California Christmas outside, we’re feeling very New England inside our tiny Lower East Side apartment.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Unboring Boar & French Fried Carrots.

Unboring Boar

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 2 1/2 hours

  • 1 1/2-2 lb Wild Boar mini-roast
  • 1 tsp Mushroom Better Than Bullion
  • 1 tbsp Hot Water
  • 1-1 1/2 c Red Wine (leftover or something you’d drink)
  • a few sprigs of Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Sage
  • 1/2 tsp Dry Mustard (like Colman’s)
  • a dash of Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Pepper
  • one good handful of Dried Fruit (I used the Golden Berry Blend from Trader Joe’s which includes dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries and golden raisins, but just about anything including apricots or prunes chopped into pieces would be lovely here)
  • Butter

Heat your oven to 275°F.

Remove the netting from the roast and rinse the meat and lightly salt.

Add the Better Than Bullion to a small, oven-proof, stove-top-proof dutch oven and add enough hot water to dissolve. Add 1 cup of the wine, the sage, mustard, cayenne and a few good grinds of pepper. Mix to incorporate. Toss in the fruit and thyme. Push the solids to the side and nestle the boar into the liquid. Turn to coat and place the thyme sprigs on top of the meat.

Place in the oven, uncovered, and cook for 2 hours, turning every 30 minutes and adding more wine if becoming too dry.

After 2 hours remove from the oven, place the meat on a plate and cover, set aside. The internal temperature should be at least 125-130°F. Mine hit 145°F and was cooked to an utterly perfect, gorgeously pink medium.

Place the dutch oven over a high flame. Carefully taste the liquid. Does it need salt? More cayenne? Remove the thyme sprigs. Allow the wine to reduced to a thin syrup and add about 1 tbsp of very cold butter. Swirl to incorporate.

Thickly slice the boar and spoon the wine syrup over each slice. Serve with polenta made with mushroom stock and French Fried Carrots.

French Fried Carrots

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 1 1/2 hours

  • 1 bunch well scrubbed Baby Carrots
  • fresh Thyme
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

When the boar has been in the oven about 30 minutes, place the carrots in a heavy cast iron skillet and toss liberally with thyme, salt and a heavy glug of olive oil. Place the skillet in the oven and toss every time the boar is turned.

When the boar is removed from the oven, turn the oven heat up to 450°F. Pull the carrots out of the oven when the boar is sliced and ready to serve. They should be nicely caramelized and somewhat crispy.



6 Responses to “Where’s Winter?”

  1. sher December 18, 2006 at 10:57 am #

    I can’t believe you’re having t-shirt weather!!!!!! It suddenly turned cold here, frost on the plants every morning. That boar looks FABULOUS! Yum!

  2. lobstersquad December 18, 2006 at 4:32 pm #

    Hi. I´m glad you´re better. I haven´t had that ´48 Rioja yet, but I will, soon, and I´ll toast to the end of all winter flu.
    Btw, the most incredible thing, somebody just wrote saying they´d come accross my blog through yours. It turns out that one of my sketches of NYC is a sketch of their very own house! What a coincidence, no?

  3. Julie December 18, 2006 at 4:59 pm #

    I love how crisp and clear the sky is in that picture. Great picture. And it certainly doesn’t look like a December sky.

    Never had boar, but it looks delicious in your picture.

  4. janelle December 19, 2006 at 12:28 am #

    My dad hunted with a bow and arrow and I can easily draw the taste of venison meatballs into my mind: yum.

    Maybe you will get a great winter blitz, yet; we sure have here on the west coast!

    Thanks for the tip on the carrots, I love roasted carrots and making them that much better has peaked my attention.

    Cheers to the December itch!

  5. ann December 19, 2006 at 11:47 am #

    Sher — today’s a beautiful, crisp, crystalline blue day, maybe the weather is finally ready to act it’s age ;-)

    LS — that’s SO cool!! I went back and looked at the piccies you drew while you were here. was it the one on St. Mark’s or over in Chelsea?

    Julie — think of the absolute best pork you’ve ever had, and then add a little dense gaminess to that memory, and you’ve got boar. it’s soooooooooo gooooood

    Janelle — oooh, my mom made venison meatballs too! sounds like your dad was far more successful than my dad when it came to the hunting. I think my dad used it as a replacement for golf in the fall/winter. if my memory’s correct, I don’t think he ever bagged one deer :-)
    I hope you like the carrots!

  6. Tiny Banquet Committee December 19, 2006 at 8:24 pm #

    This looks so good! I’ve never had boar but I’d like to try it. I’m not a big fan of gamy-anything but I think slightly-gamy pork – mmm, pork! – might be just the right thing to change my opinion.

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