In addition to wild hogs and razorbacks, the United States has Eurasian boars—a species not indigenous to the country—which were introduced in 1539 by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Today, what you see running through the hills in so many rural and semi-rural sections of the country is often a mix of domestic pig and Eurasian boar. We have a mixed breed because farmers discovered long ago that, rather than fencing in a domestic pig and feeding it, they could let the animal range freely to fatten itself on acorns, grasses, roots, grubs, eggs, rodents and fruit—and rendezvous with one another in the woods. When the farmer wanted his pig for food, he would head out with a rifle and bring home the bacon. Sometimes, though, there is something better than bacon to be made from wild boar—meatballs, for example.
Since wild boar meat is low in fat, this recipe incorporates a whole host of ingredients that introduce moisture into the meatballs, making them fluffy and juicy. The Italian herbs and Marsala wine make it hearty and provide a hint of sweetness. It is full of the flavors and smells that one would expect to find in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. To do the recipe justice, you should make a tomato sauce from scratch with several cans of plum tomatoes cooked over very low heat for many hours. And if you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can make pasta from scratch. There are also many grocery shops that have fresh pasta and high quality tomato sauce available. Those fresh flavors when paired with this meatball recipe will be a meal to remember.
If wild boar isn’t at your fingertips, you can use domestic ground pork or your other favorite protein and the recipe will translate well. Give this a try, it will please any crowd.
“Wild Boar Meatballs”
2 pounds ground wild boar meat (as fatty as possible)
½ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
½ cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup finely diced shallots
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup Marsala wine
4 tablespoons grape seed oil
3 cups tomato sauce
Linguini or your other favorite pasta
1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the oil, tomato sauce, and pasta. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until uniform in consistency.
2. Heat the grape seed oil in a large heavy bottom sauté pan.
3. Roll the wild boar mixture with your hands into 2-inch balls. Place them in the hot oil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on all sides until well browned.
4. Add the sauce and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
5. Spoon the meatballs and sauce over your favorite pasta or rice.
Dish serves eight.