Wild Boar and British Pie Week
This week, we have been embracing British Pie Week here at the Cookery School and collating some wonderful pie recipes that are true celebrations of ‘Britishness’. I’ve been demonstrating a suet based vegetarian pie, getting kids to make their own cheese and onion pasties and buying fresh rhubarb to make a real British classic – rhubarb pie with custard – to enjoy after Sunday lunch this weekend.
Then it got me thinking, what pie could represent the Forest of Dean? I had a few on my list but if I’m honest, one stood out above all the others – The WILD BOAR PIE.
Whatever anyone thinks or says about the Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean, they are now well and truly part of our natural environment. After an absence of about 700 years from Britain – love ‘em or hate ‘em – the Boar is Back!
The Wild Boar is in fact the wild ancestor of the domestic pig. Wild Boars can reach up to 440lb (200kg), occasionally even 660lb (300kg) for adult males, and can be up to 6 feet (1.8 metres) long – that is big. That is huge and is a lot of meat.
In medieval times, boar from the Royal Forest were supplied for the Royal table – apparently a record exists of an order for 100 boars and sows for a Christmas feast in 1254.
With an increasing population of Boar I would like to see the Forest of Dean embrace the Boar and get it on to the menus in all our local eateries, pubs and restaurants, as well as on the shelves of all our local supermarkets. It is delicious and available in abundance. It’s part of nature’s larder and we should be embracing it will both hands.
The meat itself is pretty lean as the boar is wild and is well exercised and the flavour is rich and dark and gamier than pork. Just like today’s farm bred pork – the meat is extremely versatile. It can be equally adapted to be the showstopper at a dinner party to the standout meat for the summer BBQ.
I would even encourage you to bring it in to the weekday family supper menu. It is wonderful cooked as a steak, slow cooked for delicious casseroles, fantastic minced for burgers, made in to sausages, meatballs and as a roast – and my personal favourite is the Wild Boar Pie. See recipe BELOW.
This year I am proud to be involved with the very first Wild Boar Festival in the Forest of Dean and it’s all about how we can “Celebrate & Feast” and enjoy the culinary benefits of The Boar and other foods from the forest. If you are in any doubt about eating boar or what you can do with it, then this is the culinary event for you! It’s going to be held at Hillside Brewery on Sunday 30th April. Wild garlic will be in abundance then and we will be taking advantage of this tasty & healthy wild food offering lots of cookery demonstrations, talks, family games, stalls and of-course not forgetting the wild boar hog roast for our very own modern day feast. Hope to see you there!
Want to try Wild Boar? Join us for our Taste of the Forest Supper Club on April 28th. Book online here.
WILD BOAR PIE RECIPE
For the pie filling
• 1kg wild boar shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into large pieces
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 175g pancetta, or streaky bacon cut into lardons
• 225g small shallots, peeled and left whole
• 400g carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
• 175g chestnut mushrooms
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 sprigs flat leaf parsley
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• 200ml red wine
• 650ml beef stock
For the pastry
• plain flour, for dusting
• 500g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
• 1 free-range egg, beaten
• Season the pieces of wild boar shoulder with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
• Heat a large saucepan over a medium to high heat. Add the olive oil, then fry the wild boar pieces for 3-4minutes, or until browned on all sides.
• Remove the browned wild boar from the saucepan and set aside on a warm plate.
• Add the pancetta lardons or bacon to the dish the wild boar was cooked in.
• Fry for 1-2 minutes, or until some of the fat is released from the meat.
• Add the shallots, carrots and mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
• Add the bay leaves and parsley sprigs, then return the boar pieces to the pan.
• Add the flour and stir well until it coats all of the ingredients.
• Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until the volume of liquid has reduced by a quarter, about 15-20 minutes.
• Add the beef stock, then cover the casserole dish with a lid. Simmer gently for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the boar is very tender.
• Transfer the cooked pie filling to a pie dish and set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the filling mixture to cool.
• Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
• Meanwhile, for the pastry, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness.
• Brush the rim and outside edge of the pie dish with beaten egg, then lay the pastry over the top of the dish. Press the edges of the pastry down to reach 2cm/¾in down the sides of the pie dish, then trim any excess. If desired, use any trimmings to decorate the top of the pie.
• Brush the pastry all over with the remaining beaten egg, then cut a small cross in the centre of the pastry using a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape.
• Transfer the pie to the oven and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the pastry has risen and is golden-brown and the filling is piping hot.