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read, cook, eat May 2010: Wild Boar Ragu

May 11, 2010

Honest, I didn’t go looking for a recipe that is a perfect match for the finale of the Lost, the best TV show ever. It found me, like the wild boar to John Locke’s knife blade in the Season 1 episode Walkabout.

I was lolling about on the web last weekend, wanting to cook something fancy for Sunday dinner but uninspired by any of my own recipes, when I tripped upon @vegetarianstar, on Twitter, and read this: “I Like Food, Food Tastes Good Features Musicians’ Favorite Recipes: I Like Food, Food Taste Good is a collection… http://bit.ly/dv68Un“. What goes better with the rainy weekend that it was than talk of food and music? Kara Zuaro is the author of the book argues, which posits that appreciates home-cooked food more than people whose work keeps them far from home. And those musicians, they do travel. Zuaro’s website generously offers a handful of recipes and the BF and I could not resist the Violent Femmes’ contribution: Wild Boar Ragu, which has also been picked up by the Epicurious website, including the iPhone and iPad apps.

But wild boar? I found the recipe about 2 p.m. Sunday and made it to Atwater market by 4 p.m. Miraculously, I found half a kg of wild boar at Boucherie de Tours, but the butcher advised against mixing the boar with his recommended substitute: pork shoulder. The pork will just drown the wild taste of the boar. So I went whole pork and by 8 p.m. that night, the BF and I were in cinnamon- and clove-infused pork ragu heaven.

Here’s my slightly altered version of the recipe: I dropped the anchovies (too salty), reduced the cloves and ditched the sundried tomatoes (the BF is a lot pickier than he’ll admit), and served it on cheese polenta instead of the recommended pappardelle.

Before you start chopping and browning, check out this great song by the Violent Femmes.

My version of The Violent Femmes’ Wild Boar Ragu from I Like Food, Food Tastes Good

  • 1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless wild boar meat or pork shoulder (cut for stew)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbs red pepper flakes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • Fresh or dried oregano, basil, and sage
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • polenta (*see recipe below)
  • Grated pecorino cheese (Parmigiano is an acceptable substitute, but pecorino, being sheep cheese, complements game)

Saute the red onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the boar or pork and sear the cubes on all sides. Then add the rest. Simmer for at least two hours, remove cinnamon stick and serve over polenta, sprinkle with the pecorino. Even better the next day. And since it’s about to get stinking hot, cook it now or save it for fall.

Polenta the Easy Way, adapted from Fine Cooking

  • I cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups milk and water (you decide how rich you want it; add more liquid if you don’t like a firm polenta)
  • salt to taste

Stir in a greased casserole to remove lumps. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, adding a handful of cheese and dollop of butter in about the last five minutes. Serve hot.

But back to Lost. Even if you can’t find wild boar, you can still share John Locke’s thrill at the prospect of a hunt, in this scene from Walkabout, in Season 1 of Lost. Enjoy. And on Sunday, May 23, after a two-hour highlights show from 7-9 p.m. ET, enjoy the 2-1/2-hour finale, airing 9-11:30 p.m. ET. And if that’s not enough, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel will host a final aloha to the show, which he has supported slavishly over the run of the series, from 12:05-1:05 a.m. ET, also on ABC.

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