Wild Boar at Château L’Age Baston
We’re always hearing from the locals that there is supposed to be a boar problem round here. “Too fertile, too many”, say the hunters. “Too hungry, too many”, say the farmers thinking about maize yields. The French hunt for boar more than for any other game. Prized for their meat, thousands are killed every year by hunters. The family groups of wild boar tend to live in forests where they feed on roots, acorns and chestnuts (as well as cereals from the neighboring farmers fields!)
Every year when the hunting season closes our Association de Chasse has one final orgy of dogs, guns and shouting followed by the usual eight-course lunch and serious booze-up! The sole purpose of this end-of-season hunt they say is to “controle” the exploding population of wild boar. Normally we’re dead skeptical about this one, but this year has given us pause for thought. Wild boar (or sanglier in French) are actually very shy and timid. In twenty years of leading parties of walkers around the un-spoilt charms of rural Charente, John has only seen boar twice and it’s hard to say who was the more surprised (probably John!) This year he’s seen four of the beasts already and that’s just around the L’Age Baston estate. It could be coincidence of course, but we like to think not.
Our most recent sighting (at the end of the drive a couple of weeks ago) was a big black boar that shot out from the trees and headed towards the main road. He was close enough for us to see bright eyes and a fierce face. We watched him carefully stop at the edge of the road and look both ways before crossing! If they’ve all managed to learn the green cross code then no wonder numbers are rising. The Boar count continues.
However ‘anti-chasse’ we might be, we have to admit to attending post boar hunt dinners at our neighbours where Miriam makes the most amazing Civet de Sanglier.
Civet de Sanglier Recipe
Civet de Sanglier is a rich ragu with the boar slowly stewed in red wine and it’s one of the most delicious things we’ve ever tasted. If you’re lucky enough to get you hands on some, here’s how you make it:
- Leg/Shoulder of boar cut into 1 inch pieces
- Bacon Lardons
- 1 Onion & 1 Carrot
- 2 heads of Garlic
- 1 bottle of robust Red Wine
- 1 small glass of Armanac
- 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Puree
- 1 Tablespoon of Flour
- Herbes be Provence (dried), Bay Leaf and Fresh Parsley
- Butter & Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Take a deep thick pan or casserole with a lid
- Place a knob of butter and good slug of olive oil in and then and the little cubes of fatty bacon
- Once warm, put the onion cut into pieces and he carrot cut into thin slices
- Then add the garlic, and after a while the cubes of meat (the heat under the pan should be quite high and you must keep stirring all the time.
- After about 5 minutes, reduce the heat and sprinkle in the flour and stir in making sure it turns brown but doesn’t burn
- Then add the tomato puree, mushrooms and herbs du Provence and mix in
- Add small shot of Armagnac and the bottle of wine so that all the meat is covered
- Add a good pinch of salt and black pepper, bay leaf and lots of fresh cut parsley – Turn up the heat to bring the wine up to boil, stirring continuously and well scrapping up the bottom of the pan
- After a couple of minutes reduce the heat, put the lid on and ‘mijoter’ (simmer away) for 2 hours
- As with all stews it will taste better the next day, so if you can resist temptation, allow to cool and reheat then
The dish can be served with boiled potatoes, rice, pasta or simply lots of crusty French bread.