Pappardelle and Wild Boar Sauce is my favorite dish on cold winter days!
Life in the Roman countryside is full of interesting characters ranging from artists and musicians to business professionals, contadini (farmers) and of course hunters. Many people in our neighborhood own a rifle for seasonal hunting.
The summer and fall before last we had some unexpected visitors: cinghiali, or wild boar. Our property is fenced in and for the most part it keeps animals out. One side of the property borders a large wooded area and although we check the fencing periodically there are wild boar, foxes, ferrets, occasional dogs and cats and who knows what else that dig and create passageways under our fencing.
Towards the end of the summer of 2016 we woke up to find the entire grass area surrounding our pool dug up. It looked as if we’d had a tractor in to till the land in preparation for planting. Clearly the work of wild boars. We spent hours flipping the chunks of earth back into place, grass side upwards. The next night the same thing occurred, and again we repaired the area, but planned on a nighttime vigil to keep a lookout for our unwanted visitors’ arrival. And they did come back: about eight or ten of them. We were ready this time and clapped and roared loudly to send them on their way. A half an hour later they were back. More clapping and roaring, and so the night ensued.
The following night we were further readied: music playing loudly, sticks placed all over the grass with noise-making objects attached, lights ablaze. It was a good deterrent but it also made it impossible to sleep.
One of our local hunter friends came the following evening at midnight along with two of his hunting buddies, including Mauro the Hunter, to give us a hand. By this time boar hunting season had begun and the prospect of five to ten wild boar arriving right to our doorstep was a great way for them to begin the season. Night one the boar appeared and the hunters just missed nabbing one.
Pigs, and wild boar, are highly intelligent and they smelled trouble right off. The nights progressed in much the same way with both hunter and prey getting wiser by the night. The hunters used classic hunting tricks like placing corn kernels near the opening in the fence to lure in the wild boar.
As weeks went on and we became increasingly sleep deprived decided to give up and do a major fence repair rather than hunt down the wild boar, and that ended our saga with them. It was a shame as after weeks of lawn repair and no sleep we were anxious to catch one and cook it up.
Out of this whole experience we got to know Mauro the Hunter and he’s remained a friend ever since. Mauro is a small man, a good head shorter than I am, which would put him at about 5’3″. We don’t know his last name; for us he’s simply Mauro the Hunter. Mauro lives and breathes hunting. We’ve never seen him dressed in regular clothes; he only wears hunting camouflage clothes…bathing suit included. I probably wouldn’t recognize him if I saw him dressed in regular clothes. Mauro has a day job and a family with two children, but the driving force in his life is hunting. He’s either hunting, planning the next hunt or organizing a celebratory dinner of grilled and stewed wild boar and other hunted animals.
Mauro is the life of every hunting party; he’s the joke teller, the organizer, the prankster, the dancer. He loves to be the center of attention. We’ve been to a few of Mauro’s wild boar fests and they’re evenings full of laughter and culinary delights. My husband isn’t a hunter, and has no interest in becoming one, but Mauro has nonetheless coopted him into becoming a permanent part of the hunting dinner party circuit.
We’ve been to other wild boar fests… common in the Roman countryside…each one very different and wonderful, and each featuring one dish in common: pappardelle and wild boar sauce. It’s delicious and is one of my all time favorites.
There are many dishes that I love but make infrequently because they just take too much time to prepare. I found that a pressure cooker allows me to prepare these dishes in a flash and enjoy some of the things that I normally put off making because of the length of time they require. If you don’t have a pressure cooker I strongly advise that you get one because it simplifies and enhances your life in the kitchen. There was a time years back that pressure cookers needed to be carefully watched and monitored. Modern-day pressure cookers have come a long and are pretty much safety guaranteed.
Pappardelle and wild boar sauce sauce is a favorite in Italy and during hunting season it’s readily available. When prepared properly and cooked until the sauce is lovely and thick and the meat is tender, it’s absolutely delicious. Wild boar sauce with pappardelle or fettuccine pasta is a wonderful winter dish to warm you up on chilly days.
Pappardelle and Wild Boar Sauce
1 kg wild boar, cut into 1 inch pieces
One 750 mL bottle of good dry red wine
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One half tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons salt
Eight fresh bay leaves
Five fresh sage leaves
34 inch pieces of fresh Rosemary
Two medium carrots
Two medium celery stocks
Two small onions
800 g canned peeled Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped
500 g pappardelle or fettuccine
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Marinate the red wine, wild boar, bay leaves, rosemary, and sage leaves for 12 hours or overnight.
Mince the onion, celery, and carrots.
Sauté the vegetables in olive oil until tender.
While the vegetables are cooking remove the pieces of wild boar from the red wine marinade.
Strain the marinade and set the liquid aside.
Add the wild boar marinade and 4 bay leaves to the pressure cooker.
Add the peeled tomatoes to the pressure cooker.
Stir the salt and cocoa powder into the wild boar.
Seal the pressure cooker and once it is fully pressurized continue cooking for 25 minutes.
Once it’s safe to open the pressure cooker check the sauce and if needed add additional water.
Continue cooking the wild boar for an additional 20 minutes after it reaches pressurization, or until the sauce is nice and thick and the wild boar is very tender.
Cool the sauce to room temperature and spoon off any excess oil from the surface of the sauce.
Cook the pappardelle or fettuccine until al dente.
Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Pappardelle and Wild Boar Sauce
- 1 kg Wild boar cut into 1 inch pieces
- 750 ml Bottle of good dry red wine
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 8 fresh bay leaves
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- 4 pieces of fresh Rosemary
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 medium celery stocks
- 2 small onions
- 800 g canned peeled Italian tomatoes roughly chopped
- 500 g pappardelle or fettuccine
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 400 g pappardelle or fettuccine
- Marinate the red wine, wild boar, bay leaves, rosemary, and sage leaves for 12 hours or overnight.
- Mince the onion, celery, and carrots.
- Sauté the vegetables in olive oil until tender.
- While the vegetables are cooking remove the pieces of wild boar from the red wine marinade.
- Strain the marinade and set the liquid aside.
- Add the wild boar marinade and 4 bay leaves to the pressure cooker.
- Add the peeled tomatoes to the pressure cooker.
- Stir the salt and cocoa powder into the wild boar.
- Seal the pressure cooker and once it is fully pressurized continue cooking for 25 minutes.
- Once it's safe to open the pressure cooker check the sauce and if needed add additional water.
- Continue cooking the wild boar for an additional 20 minutes after it reaches pressurization, or until the sauce is nice and thick and the wild boar is very tender.
- Cool the sauce to room temperature and spoon off any excess oil from the surface of the sauce.
- Cook the pappardelle or fettuccine until al dente.
- Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Special equipment: Pressure cooker