For this hamburger, you can just go and buy the meat in a good butcher's shop; or you follow Vic's instructions.
Picture credit: Vic Mousel
My taste of home: wild boar hamburgers and terrine
In “My taste of home”, Luxembourg residents contribute recipes from their home countries, but with a twist: they are challenged to use a local, seasonal ingredient.
Retired English professor Vic Mousel from Longsdorf has shared his recipe for wild boar burgers, complete with a poetic appreciation for the process, and an added recipe for wild boar terrine. Over to Vic!
“How beautiful the season is now – How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it. Really without joking, chaste weather--Dian skies--I never lik’d the stubble fields so much as now.”
Thus John Keats, the darling of English romantic poetry, on autumn.
“Autumn, ah, this much-praised 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” A thousand colours, cheerful, joyous melodies...and already I hear the third movement of Vivaldi's 'Autumn' from his ‘Four Seasons’ to the text of “The hunters emerge at dawn,/ready for the chase,/with horns and dogs and cries.”
Autumn is of course the season of hunting and thus also of some irresistibly hearty and tasty dishes.
So, get yourself a good middle-sized boar (not over 45 kilos), or better still, acquaint yourself with a hunter and ask him to provide one. Boars are a gregarious lot: black like the darkest night with a bristly rough coat and fierce tusks they have an air of wild prehistoric times about them and are over-abundant in our latitudes. Characterful as they are, they nonetheless boast a wayward reputation for causing serious damage to crops, and farmers are generally overjoyed for every boar that ceases to be. The best way of getting rid of a boar therefore is simply to eat and leave no trace of it.
Once in possession of a dead, not necessarily dry-aged wild boar, I proceed to take off its coat, which takes some practice: a no-go without sharp knives and some experience. A more undemanding and leisurely way of going about this, is of course conning the hunter into doing it for you. Once the coat is off, carve the carcass into pieces.
A myriad ways of preparing this deliciously juicy meat present themselves to the avid hobby chef. Today we have simply chosen to make burgers. I keep the better pieces like hind-quarters and back for 'nobler' purposes. Neck and shoulders are perfect for our enterprise and by the way also prove to be the right choice for making a 'terrine'. I separate meat from bones and cut away sinews and excessive fat (wild boar fat yields an undesirable taste).
The following ingredients will lead you to irrevocable success:
700 grams of wild boar meat (shoulder/neck)
300 grams of organic pork back fat
1 bulb of organic fennel
100 grams of organic onions or shallots
A generous bunch of flat-leaf parsley
75 ml of well-reduced venison stock
15 grams of organic herb-salt (min. 15% of herbs)
1 tbsp of excellent ground pepper
1 teaspoon of quatre-épices
Slice fennel and onions/shallots and fry them in a non-adhesive frying pan until well cooked, then leave to cool. Cut the meat into small cubes and mince together with the cooled onions/shallots and fennel through the fine plate (3 millimetre) of a mincer or grinder.
Put the minced mixture into a decent-sized bowl, add the finely cut parsley leaves, the stock, pepper salt and quatre-épices and mulch it altogether with your hands. Press down gently, cover with cling-wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day make a tasting sample: take 2 tablespoons of the mixture and fry it on both sides for a couple of minutes until cooked. Try it and adjust the seasoning if needed.
The next and final step is to form the hamburgers with your hands into the desired shape of about 1 inch thick. Allow the children to do this: they love it. Put aside those finished products you are going to eat, the rest goes into the deep freeze. Because otherwise it wouldn't be worth the washing-up, I usually make at least 5 kilos of mixture, which also provides me with a good stock for several weeks.
Preheat the oven to 180° C/350° F. Cover your oven-tray in a very thin film of the best organic rape seed oil and put the hamburgers on it. Once they are in the oven, allow them to cook for 20 minutes.
Play upon your imagination as far as side dishes go. This time I have chosen to serve white cabbage with potatoes fried in a good virgin olive oil--organic of course. Mashed potatoes mixed with a variety of mushrooms prove to be a responsible alternative. For the sauce, take the desired quantity of well-reduced venison stock, add a couple of tbsp of double cream, reduce to the desired consistency, check the seasoning and just before serving add a decent tbsp of the best Marsala you can get.
As to the wine to go with this dish, a good Pinot Gris from our able local wine-growers proves to be a commendable allrounder, whereas an organic Côtes de Provence or Lubéron (70% Syrah and 30% Grenache) might tempt the unredeemable red wine addict.
Note: You might be overcome by a streak of adventurous cooking. Then add 100 grams of gorgonzola (possible previously soaked in a little port wine!) per kilo mixture before mulching: it will be audaciously rewarding.
Wild boar Terrine
For understandable reasons, strongly flavoured liver-based pâtés have gone out of fashion. This country-style terrine, however, has become a favourite with me and friends alike. It is characterised by its fine ingredients, especially the discreet organic chicken liver and tasty mushrooms. Practice has taught me to weigh the ingredients carefully to obtain the ultimate proportions. Serve with a finely cut slice of organic orange (and roast potato) or, ideally with a slice of kaki whose sweet and soft fibrous texture proves to be a prime choice.
1000 grams of wild boar (neck or shoulder or any other)
500 grams of organic chicken liver
400 grams of organic pork back fat (a little less or more depending on the % of fat)
Finely cut shallots and sweat in a tbsp of olive oil at moderate heat, increase the heat, add the mushrooms and allow to simmer for abour 4 minutes until well-cooked, add the parsley and 3 tbsp of double cream, mix well with a spoon and allow to cool.
Cut the meat, wild boar and back fat into small cubes and mince through the fine plate of a mincer. Add the cooled mushrooms, the brandy, stock, salt, pepper and quatre-épices and mulch the mixture with your hands until you get a homogeneous mix. Cover with cling-film and leave to refrigerate overnight. This is very important to allow the seasoning to permeate the meat.
The next day make a tasting sample: take 2 tablespoons of the mixture and fry it on both sides for a couple of minutes until cooked. Since you need more seasoning when things are eaten cold, it is vitally important to leave your tasting sample until it is really cold. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Fill your terrine or loaf tin to the brim with your mixture. Fill the lowest tray in your oven with water. Preheat the oven (hot air) to 170° C / 330° F and place your terrines on the middle tray. Allow to bake for about 40 minutes (the bigger the terrine the more time you must allow). Test by pushing a thermometer into the centre of the terrine. Your terrine is done at a temperature of 74° C. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, placing an at least 2 pound (or more) weight on top (I use pieces of wood cut to size which will just fit the top surface). When cold enough, put into the fridge and leave to mature for at least 3 days and up to a week before enjoying.
Note: you can also use deer or red/fallow deer meat.