Mantes is a small town, so on Sundays it’s very quiet. Shops are closed – all shops? No, the bakery, the little shop on the corner, and the hardware store are open. It’s still hot out, so I went shopping this morning. I need freezer bags for the wild boar. Yes, I said Wild Boar. On Friday evening, my husband went to a farm and shot a boar that was ravaging the fields. He then proceeded to gut, skin, and dress it – and brought home the pieces and stuck them in my fridge. Aren’t I lucky? I have a wild boar in my fridge. Did I mention that my husband called at 1am? And by the time he got home, it was nearly 3 in the morning – and we didn’t get much sleep before going to work!
So on Sunday, I went to the hardware shop first, and picked up a box of freezer bags. Next stop, bakery, for a baguette. Then to the little shop on the corner, where all I wanted were tomatoes – I’ve been craving a tomato sandwich for lunch.
Auguste got a toy at the hardware shop – I found a fun rubber bone for him – but he prefers his plastic water bottles. I can’t believe it. I tried to get him to play with the bone, but he looked at me as if I were crazy, and went out to the balcony to chomp on his water bottles. Why spend money on toys when you can pick up plastic bottles on the street? I never learn, do I?
Back to the boar – I have two haunches, two shoulders – I would like to cut one haunch up for stew meat. There is the filet and also the ribs. The filet will be cut up to steaks, and the rubs I want to grill on the barbecue – they are the best part of a wild boar – to me anyhow. The haunches get cooked in the over like lamb, with lots of garlic, mint, orange peel, and red wine. The shoulders get cooked in the slow oven with either barbecue sauce or with leeks and potatoes. So, we won’t starve this winter, at any rate. (Hopes there is enough room in the freezer).
Wild boar are very common here. We see them often, especially at night. Once, my daughter and I saw a huge boar galloping across the field near our house. We were in the car, and stopped to watch, because at first, we thought it was a runaway pony – it was that huge! It galloped across the field, then crossed the road not far from where we’d parked the car. I wish I’d had my camera – it was the biggest boar I’d ever seen.
Once we caught a baby wild boar – my husband saved it from a pack of dogs near a road- and we gave it to the farmer. He called it “Napoleon” and it grew up with the dogs on the farm – he thought he was a dog!
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 wild boar shanks
- 3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
- 2 star anise pods
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbs sweet soy sauce or 2 tablespoons molasses (or maple syrup)
- 1/4 light brown sugar
- Steamed rice and cilantro, for serving
In a very large skillet, heat the oil. Add the boar shanks in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven.
Add the garlic, star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water, soy sauce, and sugar and scrape up any bits stuck to the pan.
Pour the liquid into the casserole and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, until the meat is tender and nearly falling off the bone, about 2 hours; turn the shanks occasionally.
Transfer the shanks to shallow bowls and strain the broth. Spoon off as much fat as possible. Serve the shanks with rice and cilantro and spoon some of the fragrant broth on top.