I hate myself for making that pun, Steppenwulf for writing the song that makes it stick in my head, and the Jonathan Taylor Thomas movie Wild America for making me associate it with the act of skinny-dipping in the ocean with women you’ve just met, and therefore giving me flawed understandings of teenage gatherings for years to come. I’m Jon O’Guin, it’s way too fucking late to be writing this, and today we’re going to talk about wild boar, or obscure 90’s movies, whichever holds my attention longer.
Is that an old station-wagon? SOLD!
So, Wild America, if you somehow missed this seminal classic of American cinema, is the tale of three brothers, or maybe two brothers and another guy, and their road trip across America. Maybe. Look, I honestly haven’t watched this film in well over 16 years, and I recently hit my head on a patch of ice, so it’s entirely possible I’m actively remembering a fever dream instead of a movie. Anyhow, these brothers end up traveling across America to become nature documentarians because they swore a blood oath by cutting each other’s hands and slapping hot metal together. JJ informs me no one cares about this movie. I think he lacks the vision to appreciate the comedic stylings and dramatic range of the fifth-credited cast member of Home Improvement.
He was also Simba in the Lion King. But that movie was 80 minutes. Home Improvement lasts a lifetime.
But, fine. I’ll talk about the actual food I made. So, let’s talk about weird meats.
Does this haircut make me look butch-er?
2 AM title Jon’s puns are really just the goddamn worst. Look at that sloppy punmanship, fucking up the headings like that.
Ignoring my stream of consciousness self-criticism (which, I assure you, I have to, or I’d never get anything done), I’ve always had an affection for more adventurous food sources. There’s an element of interest to being able to point to various animals and say “I’ve eaten that.” Further, I feel it helps cement mankind’s position as the top of the food chain. You may be slowly evolving out of rattles, rattlesnakes, but I know what you taste like in a sausage. The answer is, depressingly, “pretty much like chicken”. I mean, it’s a lean white meat. It’s basically going to end up like chicken or fish. Which is how alligator tastes, by the way. That almost-briny taste of slightly old fish, with a texture like pork. I’ve even had ants that taste like limes, and kangaroo.
The greatest loungers in the animal kingdom.
These exotic excitements revealed, it should come as little surprise that I recently snatched up a pair of marvelous meats. While visiting my local butcher for Thanksgiving preparations, I found a pound of ground camel, and a pound and a half of wild boar roast, and immediately decided “yeah, let’s try that,” because I’m the kind of person who, with $50 to their name, decides to spend $125 based on a coin flip. As I’ve announced at least twice today aloud: “I am an Agent of Chaos.”
Of course, preparing such delicacies would take research, an exhaustive search for ingredients, and a laser-precise attention to detail. By which I mean 5 minutes of Google, a visit to TWO shops, and more half-assed winging it than a penguin mating display.
These things are much cuter when animated.
I Don’t Mean to be a Boar.
Normally this is where I’d go on a lengthy explanation of boars, their native regions, and their present decimation of ecosystems in the American Southeast since their introduction. But of late, that’s made me feel more like a food school teacher than a food comedy blogger, so FUCK LEARNING, today’s about messing shit UP!
Now, if you want to know what flavors pair well with boar, you’ve just got to think about the flavor: boar, despite being a pig, doesn’t really taste like pork. It’s, of course, more gamey, and stronger. It tastes closer to slightly funky beef. So things like mushrooms, red wine, rosemary and garlic all go with it. Personally, I just walked into a local spice shop, and bought “Seasoning for Wild Game”.
Also known as "What sand looks like in the Outback."
It’s some funky stuff, I can tell you. Pungent. Fennel, cumin, onion and garlic powder. When I rubbed it on the boar roast, JJ said the smell hit him palpably from 15 feet away. I let that sit on the meat for 2 days. I meant to only do it for one day, but then we went to see Rogue One much earlier than I thought we were going to, so we had to skip cooking dinner that night. In the end, I think this was a mistake. We’ll get to why in a bit.
Now, it’s been a while since I really screwed up a meal here on Kitchen Catastrophes, so those of you who tune in for my failings will be happy to know that I really drop the ball today, and I do it because of a real stupid mistake. See, when I looked up Wild Boar recipes, I encountered two basic recipes: you can roast it fast, or braise it slow. When it came time to cook, we voted “fast”. I set the oven, made the roasting veggies, and then set the timer for the slow braise. This, as you might guess, would have burnt the everloving shit out of everything. Luckily, I also resolved to toss the veggies half-way through cooking, and when I opened the oven and saw they were starting to burn, I went “Hmm. Maybe I should only cook this a little while longer.”
If that looks mostly done, I should warn you: this is the picture BEFORE I put it in the oven.
I still ended up, by my estimate, leaving the boar in for 10-20 minutes longer than it should have, but the results were still edible, at least. At a technical level, it was one of my better meals: I made a gravy using the boar fond and roasting fat, and the veggies were actually pretty damn good. (I’m really digging roasted parsnip flavor and texture) The only issue was the meat was a little tougher than a well-done steak. And, as a corollary to that, the outer edge, where the rub had over-infused the meat from the 2 day sit, the flavors were almost medicinal. But hey, when you take a walk on the wild side, sometimes you’re gonna stumble.
My parents said not to play with my food. They never made a distinction on "modeling".
NEXT TIME: JON TALKS SIMPLE CHRISTMAS PARTY TRICKS, JUST TOO LATE TO HELP ANYONE WITH A REAL SENSE OF PLANNING.
Wild Boar Roast with Roasted Root Vegetables
1.5 lbs wild boar roast
Rub of your preference
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large carrots, cut into 1” pieces
1 large onion, quartered
2 large parsnips, cut into 1” pieces
2 tbsps olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
- Apply the rub to your roast, and refrigerate for 1 day.
- Take out the roast, and bring a pan to medium-high heat, with the 1 tbsp of olive oil. Preheat your oven to 375.
- Sear the outside of the roast, turning roughly every 1 minute, until browned all over. Do not clean the pan.
- Take a roasting pan, and toss vegetables in 2 tbsps olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Then clear a space in the middle, and place the roast there.
- Roast 30-40 minutes, turning roast and veggies once.
- Remove the roast and veggies from the pan, and pour the liquids into the previously used pan. Add a roughly equal amount of flour, and stir to combine. Bring to medium heat, until the roux begins to sizzle. Add vegetable stock, and stir to incorporate. Simmer until reduced, seasoning to taste.
- Slice boar, and serve with veggies and gravy.