A few years ago, while visiting Tuscany and Umbria, I had a simple Italian pasta dish featuring Ragu al Cinghiale (wild boar). I remember it being so delicious and very similar to the ragu my mom makes. Pasta with ragu is one of my comfort foods and when the weather begins to chill, it calls to me! In Tuscany and other areas nearby, cooking with wild game is very popuar. There are lots of hunters in these parts, and their delicasies reflect the game that they catch. But I never thought that I, not a hunter, could ever cook with these meats. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked into a nearby organic market, Sprouts, and found ground wild boar meat in the meat department! I immediately picked it up and brought it home to try my luck at making the delicious ragu that I had tasted in Tuscany. But so many questions arose in my head, mostly those wondering if I had to treat the meat in some way to remove the gaminess. After doing some research online, I decided that I would just go for it and treat it like any other ground meat I’ve used in the past when I’ve made ragu. I’m glad I followed my instincts, because it came out perfectly!
Ragu al Cinghiale (Wild Boar Ragu)
1 lb. ground wild boar meat
2 to 2 1/2 cups of Marinara Sauce (here’s my homemade recipe)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 stalks finely chopped celery
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (I found some online here) softened in hot water (save the liquid)
1 Porcini mushroom bouillon cube
1/4 cup red wine
Salt & pepper
Saute the onions and celery in the olive oil until they are starting to brown. (don’t add too much oil, only enough to coat the bottom of the pan).
Add the ground wild boar meat and brown it thoroughly all the while breaking up the larger chunks.
Add the red wine and cook for about 1 minute.
Add the marinara sauce and chopped, softened porcini mushrooms. Stir and combine well. Add the bouillon cube and some salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer and cook for a couple of hours, making sure that the sauce doesn’t burn. If needed, add a little of the porcini soaking water to keep it moist.
Serve with your favorite pasta (I like it with egg fettucine). If you don’t use all the sauce and you want to keep it for future uses, it freezes perfectly.