In food, as with many things, it’s all who you know. My friend Morgan is a great example – he’s a butcher who has worked in many chichi restaurants, and thusly has loads of good meat connections. So whenever he furtively asks if I want to see something cool, as is his habit, my answer is always the same: “Definitely.”
A recent spectacle was especially exciting. Hanging in his walk-in cooler was a whole side of wild boar – and next to it, the de-skinned head that bore a menacing snarl. Apparently Morgan’s hunter friend had snared this beast in Monterey County (South of San Francisco) a couple of days before.
For a gal like me, inspired by local food and with an unabashed lust for meat, this was a total score. The boar had an incredible amount of cap fat (the fat that blankets the animal, as opposed to fatty marbling within a muscle) – which was surprising, since wild animals tend to be leaner compared to commercially reared ones. And the meat was a deep magenta color, a testament to the myoglobin that a hard-working, wild-running animal builds up in its muscles. It was so red that if it were cut into steaks, you might have thought it was beef. My favorite part? The area of the skin studded with pieces of shot, proof that this didn’t just come from some slaughterhouse in the Midwest.
Morgan prodded the carcass, saying that it needed a bit more hanging time to firm up the flesh, and then started rattling off all the things he was going to make with it. He was fixated on curing: salami, prosciutto, and dry sausages. It’s a wise approach; a side of boar is a heckuva lot of meat, after all, and the preservative qualities of curing let you enjoy the beast at a more leisurely pace.
The only downside is this: curing meat involves a long, slow drying process, and so Morgan’s wild boar charcuterie is still hanging in his garage. Which means that if I’m lucky enough to taste some of this wild boar, it’s going to be a few more weeks. Stay tuned…
Wild boar hanging in the walk-in cooler
Pieces of shot in the boar's flesh
Sausages and salami and sopressata, oh my!