How to get the best quality hunted Wild Boar?

HELLLLLLLLLLLO. We all love food but we don’t all love seeing blood.  Gonna keep it real.  Animals + meat + eating = bloodshed.  Very proud moment, 3 wild boars ranging from 135 pounds to 350 pounds.  Gave them my POF business card.

I love food.  And because the animal blesses us with their meat it’s very very very important to do the best we can to handle it well.  That means a lot more than just cooking it right.  What goes into handling the meat well?  A lot.  First of all, it’s hunting the pigs that taste the best.  Eating the best diet.  These pigs eat almonds and pistachios and figs and grapes.  They eat a better diet than the $130/pound jamon iberico de bellota.   So location is in my opinion number one.

Then, It’s very important to handle it well.  What does that mean? It means hunting it selectively.  I did a lobster sashimi taste test between male and female, and Eric Ripert says the females are always sweeter.  It’s TRUE.  Te females always taste better than the males as the meat is sweeter, but we need to hunt in an ecologically responsible way.  I never try to purposely attack the manufacturer (mother) and for “meat” pigs, usually the smaller ones are the best.  100-175 pounds.  but sometimes as hunters we take what we can get.  Still, the big big big pigs have a different taste, and stronger, similar to lamb vs mutton, or baby lamb vs lamb.  It’s a more developed flavor.  But, I like them all and adjust the dish depending on how the pig tastes.  If it’s more delicate like the suckling pigs, then you go one way.  If it’s strong, then you balance it.

The Shot: shooting it and killing it right away is imperative.  If you don’t kill it right away, and it runs and stress hormones are released, then that will get into the meat.  It will taste “gamier.”  Wild boar has a beautiful taste, I’ve had everything from strong iron-y tastes from the blood, to very very very delicate flavor.  Everything from 18 pound boars to 700 pounders and everything in between.  They all taste good, but shooting it in the right place (heart, lungs, shoulder, head) will make sure it tastes optimal.  A headshot right behind the ear damages the least meat.  If you shoot it in the ribs you’ll lose some of the surrounding meat, and if you shoot in the back leg, well you’ll lose a lot of the leg you shot and usually even more of the leg that the bullet comes out of.  The aim is to kill with least damage to the animal, and maximum meat for the hunter.

Bleeding it: bleeding it is very important – while the heart is still pumping, Japanese do an ike jime to the head of fish.  spike, cut the gills, a slit at the tail.  let it bleed both ways.  Bleeding the animal makes all the difference in the taste – whether it will taste gamey and strong in iron, or not.  To expand on bleeding it, I take a 120 quart cooler and bleach it before I go hunting, then place the carcass in the cooler and ice it for a day.  Then drain the ice and butcher it and place the meat in bags.  Aging it for a few days will improve the flavor – it doesn’t last quite as long as cows when dry-aging (21-35 days guaranteed).  Wet aging breaks down the meat, but sometimes you know what, the filet is so good you want to eat it the day of.

Butchering: butchering is extremely important. You want to make sure your cuts are on point and you’re cutting at the joint.  If you want to make bacon, make bacon and cut very close to the ribs.  If you want more meat on the spare ribs, don’t make the bacon.

Cooking: these boars I hunt take little effort to make the meat taste good because they eat such an amazing diet.  But, sometimes I look at the meat and can tell a difference in color, or a difference in fat content.  If it’s really low in fat I’ll brine it in a 1 gallon, 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2cup sugar and then some herbs (juniper, black peppercorns, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme) solution

Aging: wet aging will improve the flavor and tenderness by just keeping it ice cold in the cooler.  You want the water and ice to draw the blood out, but at the same time you don’t want it to be sitting in a puddle of water.  After you drain a lot of the blood, place in bags and keep it coldddddd.  Or, put it on an elevated rack so the blood drains.  Dry aging will improve the flavor, but most people don’t have the ideal setup…humidity controlled… super cold, not too much light, door not opening all the time.

After I killed the pig I cut its filet mignon/tenderloin out and cooked it and ate it. Fuck, yummy.

One Comment

  1. Foragingwino

    Gee, your pigs are well fed and not so wild if they have a diet of almonds, pistachio and figs. Well, the pork is what they eat and yours sounds sumptuous. I have to shoot truly wild pig and I must suffer puerco Montereyico de bellota y carroña and so must evaluate each wild pig and handle accordingly. Most of my boars, as opposed to sows, have quite a range of flavor. The smaller males aren’t so musky, but large guys have to be worked on with a knife. My theory is the flavor and smell of males depends on the amount of testosterone coursing through their blood, hence the younger, smaller boars aren’t so strong. Also, people vary in the ability to pick up on the musky, sandalwood smells I get from big boars. Here they are enjoying the grilling of old boar pork and I’m saying yuck. This character I don’t like seems to be in the fat and therefore I trim all fat on a big boar and most of that muscle goes towards sausage where commercial pork fat is used instead. There is one good thing one can do with big boar hams and that is to raw cure the ham and don’t cook. If you make prosciutto-like ham, the musky, sandalwood smells aren’t there, just none of the umami of commercial pork. Skinned hams don’t dry cure that well. The two hams I have done with skin on is a heck of a lot of work scrubbing the dirt laden skin and then removing the hair, the resulting lardo under the skin is quite nice though. Don’t have to have the fatback for lardo.

    When it comes to wild sows and piglets there’s USUALLY nothing to complain about. They don’t have the umami commercial pork does, but aren’t like the boars. There have been times when a few have been what I call fishy and are off putting in smell and flavor and there isn’t much one can do about it. They are what they eat.

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