Japanese Wild Boar
A couple of weeks ago, a guy from my Dojo asked if I wanted some wild boar meat. “Yeah, of course. I’ll take some back-strap, some ribs, a leg roast…” Well, he said he’d bring some ribs and a roast. Cool. I love the flavor (some people say it’s gamey, but I think it tastes fantastic – like really top quality pork.) Well, we finally got around to the exchange, and I was expecting some vacuum packed cuts right from the freezer… Hah, that’s what ya get for “expecting.” Click Read More to find out what happened…
Here’s what I got.
2 full boar hind legs. Each probably weighed about 4-5 kilos (8-10 lbs.)
Surprise!! Okay, so, uhhh… It was almost 8 at night already, on a Wednesday, on Allen’s birthday no less. Anybody know a good late night butcher? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Well first things first – dinner, birthday presents, cake, clean the kitchen…
Come around 9:00 or so I finally have the kitchen to myself and ready to go. I’ve seen people skin deer before, and rabbits (okay, like 30 years ago, but…) so I figure it can’t be too hard. In fact it wasn’t. The most difficult part was the inner thigh area where the fat was over an inch thick. That fat made it hard to skin until I got the hang of it. If you look at the picture below on the left, you can see where I cut the meat a number of times trying to skin that area. (Top area in the pic.) The second leg went much faster and was a much, much cleaner job. You can see (the right pic) where I only screwed up once.
I started to skin at the achilles tendon, where it had already been cut to run the ropes used to string it up for gutting. Making a circular incision around the leg, I then slit the hide up the shin and proceeded to skin as I went. Pulling the hide as hard as you can as you go makes it a lot easier. Also, don’t try to cut at the line where the skin meets the muscle, but cut just a bit on the skin side. That way you won’t mistakenly cut the meat and you can actually work a little faster. The most difficult area is where the fat is the thickest. Since I had heard that the fat adds to the ‘gaminess’ of the meat, I wanted to remove as much of it as I could. So I skinned in a way that would make this the last part. When you get to the thick fat, roll the hide in your hand so you can pull it to put tension on the area you are skinning. You can see the difference this makes in the two pictures above. The pic on the right had a bit of fat left, so I shaved it off after skinning, but there aren’t a bunch of small cuts in the meat like the first one on the left.
Next came the butchering. I looked online (for about 5 minutes) to try to find some kind of a tutorial on skinning and butchering a wild boar and other than some Japanese lady skinning a little baby over her kitchen sink, I couldn’t find anything. The one piece of advice I found was some lady hugging a chunk of pig talking about cutting along the seams between the muscles.
I started again at the bottom of the leg. You’ll find a seam between the major muscles – it looks like a white line of fat in the left picture above. Slitting this open, you’ll see that you can separate the muscle by pulling it apart and gradually cutting the connective tissue. (Much like skinning) Be careful not to separate every muscle or you’ll end up with a bunch a little chunks! When you get to the thigh bone, use the tip of your knife to cut the meat off the bone. You’ll see that for a nice big roast, it’ll be attached to bone on the ‘bottom’ and if you cut it off cleanly your roast should just have a small V-shaped cut on the bottom. Here are some of the best cuts that I got. 2 nice big (500+g) roasts, a good rump roast and another nice slab that I have no idea what you call.
The picture on the right is the meat I got from just one leg!! So next I made sure it was all nice and clean, dried off and ready to pack. I wish I had a vacuum packer, but… I packed it all up and did the best I could getting all the air out of the bags. Stuck them in the freezer so they didn’t overlap each other and hit the quick freeze button. Each of the bags below weighs between 450~600 grams so it looks like a little over 5 kilos of meat. Yum, yum!!
I finished at about 1 in the morning…. 4 hours of sleep made me a zombie the next day, but when I got home, I figured I better cook some up, so I did up a roast.
- 1 onion rough cut
- 1 carrot rough cut
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- thyme, oregano, salt, pepper
- Cut the onion and carrot (you can add potato too) put in a bowl, add some of the spices and pour 1/4 cup of olive oil over it. Mix it up well so the oil coats the veggies then put it in the bottom of your roasting dish.
- Mince the garlic and add some of the spices (I didn’t have any rosemary but that would have been good too) then add some olive oil and mash it up into a paste.
- Salt and pepper the roast, then get a good cast iron pan screaming hot and sear the outside of the roast.
- Put the vegetables in a roasting dish and add about a 1/2 cup of water. Smear the spice paste onto the roast then place it on top of the vegetables.
- Put it in an oven at 375F (190C) for about 40-50 minutes depending on the size. You’ll want the center of the roast to be 158F (70C) to be finished. (Some people like it a little pink – others are afraid of parasites so they cook the shit out of it. Use your better judgement.) Mine was a little under 70C and a bit pink, but for such a lean piece of meat I didn’t want to cook it dry.
It was great!! Hell, even the kids liked it and asked for more! Yesterday I chopped up the leftovers, threw them into a pot with the juice and left over veggies – added more veggies and made a nice thick soup/stew for tonight. Can’t wait.
Hope this helps out anyone else who suddenly finds themselves confronted by a leg of wild boar!!