Sunday, September 14, 2008

Roulade of Wild Boar Rack

I really enjoy working with wild boar. It's as easy to use as domestic pork and as long as you remember that it is considerably leaner than domestic pork, you can treat it in any manner that you would domestic pork. Here is a recipe that I designed as an autumn show piece. It's a lot of work, but it wows customers.


This dish is a bone-in roulade of an entire rack of wild boar, stuffed with a wild boar farce which would make a terrific terrine, if baked separately in a mold. A portion is two chops cut off the rack, seared and roasted à la minute, and cut into individual chops at plating.

I have selected garnishes which reinforce the essential earthiness and gaminess of boar. The farce gets some earthiness from a porcini mushroom syrup, whose flavor I chose to echo in the porcini risotto under the chops.

While the chops are resting, we add chanterelle mushrooms to the roasting pan. We certainly could have used fresh porcini, but we have gorgeous golden chanterelles on hand now. From the scraps from fabricating the racks, we make a boar jus with which we deglaze the pan containing the mushrooms. We mount the pan sauce with sweet butter. The mushrooms and pan sauce become the second garnish.

Finally, the dish needs some bitterness to balance the richness of the meat, risotto, and pan sauce. I chose to briefly braise escarole and then finish it in olive oil, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Any bitter green would serve admirably in this role.

You can see that this dish is not for the faint of heart—considering the labor in fabricating the racks and making the jus, not to mention the attention that the dish takes on the line with three à la minute garnishes—but it sure makes a great statement in the dining room.

For a wine to accompany this dish, I would work with the essential sweetness of the boar by choosing a fruity, modern-style Syrah that also has peppery aspects to echo the green peppercorns in the stuffing. From our wine list, I would choose the Thorn-Clarke "William Randell" Shiraz Barossa 2004. With its dark fruit, white pepper, cedar, and eucalyptus notes, it will pair outstandingly with this dish.

Roulade of Wild Boar Rack

1 double cut* roulade boar chop
salt and pepper
12 small chanterelle mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced shallots
fresh thyme leaves
4 fluid ounces boar jus
soft unsalted butter
8 fluid ounces porcini risotto
6 escarole leaves, blanched and braised

*We use double cut chops because they hold together much better than single chops and they do not overcook nearly as easily.

Season the double boar chop with salt and pepper and sear on all surfaces in a hot, oven proof pan. Transfer the pan to a hot oven and roast to 130 degrees Fahrenheit*. Remove the chop from the roasting pan and let it rest. The internal temperature will come up to about 135-140 in 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the chanterelles, shallots, and thyme to the roasting pan and sauté for a couple of minutes. Deglaze the pan with the boar jus and reduce until syrupy. Swirl in the butter.

Mound the porcini risotto in the well of a large soup plate. Slice the boar chops in half and lay them against the risotto mound, crossing the bones. Garnish with the braised escarole. Spoon the chanterelles and pan sauce around. Garnish with variegated sage.

*Because the roulade contains comminuted (ground) meat, the Food Code says you should cook it to an internal temperature of 165F. Naturally, you don't want to ruin your wild boar by doing this, so depending on your local code, you may have to place a warning on your menu.

Fabricating the Rack

Working with racks takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, the racks of all animals are pretty much the same. It takes me about 20 minutes to clean, french, butterfly, and roll each 8-bone rack. Here is a brief pictorial essay on fabricating a wild boar rack into a roulade.

If you examine a rack, you'll see that it has an upper layer of meat and fat, the cap, separated from the ribeye by a tough layer of silverskin. This photo is of a rack as it comes out of the box, cap on.

The first step is to remove this cap and silverskin carefully with a boning knife. Reserve all the trimmings from the rack to use to make boar jus.

After removing the cap, deep french the bones. The tips of the racks are minimally frenched when you receive them. Once you remove the cap, you'll see a line of fat running horizontally along the base of the bones. Cut in between the bones down to this line of fat with a sharp knife to remove any meat between the bones. Reserve this trim for the jus. With a utility knife, scrape all the tissue off the bones from the line of fat to the tip of the bone on all sides. Here is the fully cleaned rack, ready for stuffing.

Next, butterfly the rack. You want to slice the meat so that it unrolls into a thin, even layer as in this photo. With practice, this becomes easier. If you are not confident in your knife skills, you might want to practice butterflying cheap pork loin before attempting an expensive rack. Note that each rack has a small end and a large end. You will have to make the meat thinner on the small end than on the large end so that it rolls out into a neat rectangle.

To stuff each rack, you'll need about 3/4 pound of wild boar farce. Spread the farce on the butterflied rack, with a thicker layer on the small eye end such that the roulade is uniformly sized when you roll it. Leave a margin all the way around the edges; the stuffing will spread as you roll the roulade.

Start rolling the roulade as shown here by rolling just a little bit of the meat back on itself. The smaller and tighter this first bit, the tighter the spiral and the nicer the roulade will look.

Continue rolling all the way back to the bone. Notice that the meat is even in diameter all the way across the rack, so that each customer gets an equal portion of product by weight. The small end will contain more stuffing and the larger end will contain less, but all chops will be the same size.

Next, using butchers twine, tie the roulade. There are all manner of techniques that will work. I just make a loop in the end of the twine, slide it over one of the end bones, and wrap between each bone, making a hitch around the bone before moving on. The hitch helps hold the chop together when you slice it off the rack.

Wild Boar Farce

This is a classic forcemeat. Mix thoroughly all the ingredients except the boar in a large bowl to ensure even distribution, then add the boar. The best way that I have found to mix the forcemeat is to glove up and do it by hand. The paddle blade of the mixer tends to heat the forcemeat and can make it tough.

1 fluid ounce porcini broth reduction
2 large eggs
1/2 cup/4 fluid ounces heavy cream
1/4 cup/2 fluid ounces tawny Port
1 cup/4.5 ounces shelled pistachios
2 tablespoons/1 ounce green peppercorns
1 cup/4 ounces shallots, minced and sweated
1 cup/4 ounces diced pancetta
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon pimentón agridulce
5 pounds ground wild boar

Porcini Broth Reduction

1.5 ounces dried porcini
16 fluid ounces hot water

Pour hot water over porcini and allow to rehydrate in a warm place for twenty minutes. Pour 8 fluid ounces of the resulting broth into a sauce pan and reduce until syrupy, yielding about one fluid ounce of porcini broth reduction. Reserve the rehydrated porcini for another use.

Boar Jus

Dice all boar scraps. Brown the boar and half its weight of mirepoix in a hot pan. Continue until all surfaces are browned. Add water to cover, deglaze the pan, and simmer for 60 minutes or until you have a well flavored jus. Pass through a chinois and defat. Reserve for service.


  1. Wow! This looks incredible. I wish I could do dishes like this where I work, but we do pub food. I worked for you the weekend before Apple Blossom, and I'd love to work with you again, but that's not why I commented. I do a pork dish with hard cider, cream, a jus lie, and carmelized apples, and I bet this sort of thing would be amazing in the boar rack. Best of luck,

  2. Brian, good to hear from you again. Hope things are well.

    I've done something similar with pork loin, but patience is necesary at this point because really good apples are still six weeks away.