WILD boar, which we tend to serve outside of the normal game season, is always popular at Friends. Perhaps not so popular is my comment that they are locally caught.
However, what we eat is a bit of an anomaly, as it is actually farmed, even though these days there are about 2,500 of these medieval-looking creatures roaming free in our countryside.
The boar - the ancestor of the domestic pig - was hunted out of Victorian Britain, and as recently as the 1950s was not resident in Britain. How they came back is unclear to me, one theory being that they escaped from captivity, and some landowners accepted that they have a right to a habitat in our woodlands.
In France, Italy and other parts of central Europe, the sangliers were not eliminated. In fact, the bête noir, a hunting term, has remained a sought-after repast.
Up to six months old, they are known as marcassin, at which age the meat is most tender, and need not be marinated.
The meat becomes stronger as the animal ages, and then benefits from marinating for 24 hours.
Much as I enjoy this flavoursome meat, I would not enjoy confronting the fearsome beast in the wild.
Being confronted by the local variety in one of our fine hostelries is far less intimidating.
This one of the ways we serve wild boar at Friends
Wild boar medallions with juniper berry sauce
(serves 4) * 8 x 65g medallions of boar For the marinade:
* 150ml red wine
* 8 crushed juniper berries
* 6 crushed peppercorns
* 1 sprig of rosemary
* 1 sprig of thyme
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 cloves of chopped garlic
* 2 cloves
* 4 tbsp olive oil For the sauce:
* 350ml stock (chicken or veal)
* 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
* 1 tsp arrowroot
1) Mix the ingredients for the marinade and immerse the boar medallions. Cover and leave to marinate for 24 hours.
2) Drain the meat and reserve the marinade.
3) Cook the lightly seasoned medallions in hot oil for a few minutes on each side, leaving them pink in the middle. Keep warm.
4) Tip off any excess oil and pour the marinade, including the ingredients and the stock, into the pan.
5) Bring to the boil, stirring to release any residue from the boar.
6) Add the redcurrant jelly, and mix into the stock.
7) Dilute the arrowroot in a little water, and stir into the stock.
8) Simmer for 10 minutes.
9) Strain the sauce into a clean pan, and simmer gently until the correct syrupy consistency is achieved.
10) Season to taste. Arrange the medallions on plates and serve with some red cabbage.