Wild Boar Is No Bore. A Wild, Wild Sausage. Santa Paula, CA.
Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)
Every sign of the day suggested that it was a day to celebrate life. Wild grasses ebbed and flowed with the cool breeze, rhythmic and alive. Leaves on an ancient oak played stray musical notes like dozens of wind chimes. Hidden in the vast chaparral were small, gentle voles that spread apart in the day and huddled together at night. Living their lives mostly on high alert, today, however, these small, gentle creatures welcomed the optimism and let their guards down ever so slightly, relaxing just a little. It was a holiday after all.
A lone wild boar who had wandered far from his sounder too felt this sense of well being as he rooted for something to eat. He snuffled for beetles, berries and all manner of rubbish. Not in the least particular about his ingesta as long as they filled his belly and took away the pangs, and at the moment, even a lizard seemed delectable to the boar. The flavor of any food would be enhanced by this enchanted day. But if the day had been a dreary one, his meal would be so as well. And, oh brilliant day, it was a choice one to eat like a wild boar king. He could not believe his fortune as he came upon a bounty of barley high on the ridge with no other animal in sight. It was a great chance to be the feral pig he was and eat every bit of it.
The bolt from the hunter’s crossbow flew straight and true. It parted the wild boar’s tuft of fur and pierced the thick hide, then cleared any bones and at last penetrated his heart. The tranquility of the moment was suddenly shattered by an agonizing and sustained squeal, then came a wet sputtering and finally dead silence. The half-masticated barley hadn’t even been swallowed and it never would be.
Everything was silent until the hunter came out of his position to collect his felled beast, then the life around began to chatter again, retelling the tale of the wild boar and his demise. The enchanted day continued for the rest of the prairie. But for the wild boar the holiday was over.
The dead animal was an older boar with tough meat from years of tough living. Its carcass radiated with the redolence of consistently indiscriminant dining and filled the hunter’s nostrils with a funk that induced tears. This would be a sausage pig, the hunter sighed. His buddies howled with laughter and tossed him a warm Pabst as consolation.
To combat the intense gaminess of this old boar, equally intense seasonings were necessary. The butcher suggested Cajun seasoning. After the old boar was ground, the Cajun spices were worked in, then the mix fed into a hog casing.
When grilled right, the casing is slightly charred with a moist yet crispy welcome. Although initially savory with the promise of more succulence to come, this anticipation is never rewarded. The fact is this boar was old and tired. The meat was dry, not quite jerky dry but pretty damn dry. He reeked and didn’t care — we’ve all had those days except this boar was committed to it. His meat tasted of a messy medley of meadow debris, slightly porky with a big bouquet of B.O. finished with a mercilessly pungent and loitering aftertaste. The peppery burn of the Cajun spices did well to temporarily distract from the skunky and funky but, with no effort, the sausage regained its signature sapor of sweat soon enough.
A wild sausage does indeed a wild boar make, but for a couple of reasons, the flavor of this unique meat quickly won me over. In the short time it took me to eat the sausage — from the first repulsive bite to the final convoluted taste — my opinion of it changed for the better but with a huge asterisk attached. Wild boar sausage is the stinky cheese of the sausage world. It clearly is malodorous yet complex with hidden delights peeking through its wilderness every now and again. If you have the fortitude, focus and patience, I encourage you to take a walk on the wild side, tune-up your crossbow and try some wild boar sausage yourself. Well, maybe you don’t actually need to hunt the savage, smelly swine. After all, eating it is harrowing enough.
Unfortunately the pungent aroma has its origin in the content of sexual hormons. So I was told by a hunter/butcher. That's why boars meat will never be used for sausages in Germany. Whereas the meat of younger animals is turned into delicious things as sausages and hams.
why are you busting my balls (as they say in america)? i love your attention to my blog but, man, you are asking for my blood. peace, my friend out there in the european blogosphere!
thanks for the information on the sexual hormones. perhaps everything tastes different when sex is involved, eh?
yes, there is at least one sardinian restaurant in LA. it's called campagnola.
but as suspected, there is no wild boar on their "authentic" menu.
thanks for your compliment, but, please, i'm not really a snob, just very busy. i want to squeeze all of your cheeks.
yeah, you might have to bring your own deodorant to rub on the sausage. i suggest the "teen spirit" brand. it's fresh!
who shot the old boar? my father-in-law's friend.
I never made sausage with it, but I did use it in my chili recipe. I would first cut the meat (carefully trimmed) into 1-inch cubes, marinate it for 24 hours in a cheap red wine, and then use it just like beef and/or pork.
Don't remember it being any better than "tame" domestic meat, but it was EXOTIC, and that ALWAYS adds to the mystique, (I think).
Good post, thanks.
In actuality, he does not know the first thing about cooking anything that does not involve a can of cream soup.
I am an excellent cook though (and much younger than my husband, if that excites you) and once ran a commercial kennel that supplied the restaurant industry in our Arkansas retirement village.
I just might surprise my husband with some wild boar sausage this weekend!
And even an old boar need not be so funky, although I like that odd bouquet, too. You can soak the meat in a brine, which will alter its taste to whatever you want, or soak it in milk to make it mild. Or both.
Nice post, and glad to see you enjoyed the beast. Reminds me: I gotta get out there in a month or two...
Bacon is my favorite food, should that interest you.
BTW, The Doc Up Chuck Contingent is hard at it - as evidenced by the slanderous remarks. Please forgive them... I mean him.
Keep cooking real food!