Wild boar ragù over pappardelle pasta makes an elegant meal for guests or family. This meaty, rich ragù with a wine-tomato sauce shows that you never have to sacrifice flavor when cooking up wild game. Wild can be gourmet!
What are wild boar and where do they come from?
Wild boar are the descendants of domestic hogs brought to the New World by Spanish explorers. Pork was an important source of food for explorers and early settlers, but the feral descendants of their stock are a real threat to native wildlife.
Since hunting these non-native animals helps keep their population in check, it is always open season on wild boar in Alabama where we live. My sportsman husband, Scott, and our hunting kids keep our freezer well stocked with free-range pork.
Wild boar ragu over pappardelle pasta is the perfect dish for using up wild boar shoulder roast and feeding a crowd. This recipe will serve 10-12 people.
What kind of meat is a ragù?
Ragù is a hearty Italian meat-based sauce that is typically served over pasta. You can use all kinds of meat! Think beef, chicken, pork, duck, goose, lamb, mutton, veal, or a variety of wild game. Ragù bolognese typically uses minced beef, but I think it’s fantastic with a mixture of venison, beef, and pork. This ragù recipe uses succulent wild boar.
How do you make wild boar meat tender and tasty?
Like venison, wild boar likely will be leaner than domestic cuts of meat. My Ten Tips to Know When Preparing Venison will apply for boar, too. In particular, a marinade, brine, or dry rub helps tenderize the meat as well as reducing any gamey flavor ahead of cooking. Long cooking on low heat is also key. If you’re using a Dutch oven on the stovetop, you’ll want to simmer the wild boar for about 3 1/2 hours until the meat is falling apart.
Why is pappardelle pasta, and what makes it so good?
Pappardelle pasta consists of long, flat, and wide egg noodles. Because the noodles have a wide surface area, pappardelle makes a perfect bed of al dente pasta for rich, hearty meat sauces like this wild boar ragú. In cold winter months, this dish particularly hits the spot. Enjoy!
Other Ingredients Needed
Along with the wild boar meat, this tomato-based ragú includes some staples of Italian cooking: Vidalia onion, fresh rosemary and garlic, carrots, celery, and beef stock. Note that you can use an extra cup of beef stock in place of the Merlot if you’d rather not cook with wine.
Equipment-wise, you can use a pressure cooker or an Instapot in place of a Dutch oven. I give instructions for all three.
Wild Boar Ragú over Pappardelle Pasta
- large pot, Dutch oven, pressure cooker, or Instapot
- 1¾ pounds wild boar meat in 2-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 sprigs rosemary plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves for garnish
- 1 Vidalia or sweet onion peeled and cut in chunks
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and thickly cut
- 2 celery stalks thickly cut
- 1 cup Merlot, other red wine, or beef stock
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 28-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes
- 1 pound pappardelle pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese divided
- Liberally season boar with salt and pepper. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, or in a pressure cooker or Instapot, add olive oil and bring to almost smoking.
- Put the boar chunks into the cooker and brown on all sides for about 5 minutes. Do this in batches so the meat browns and doesn’t steam.
- Once all the meat is brown, put the meat back into the pot or pressure cooker and add the rosemary, onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until all the vegetables are soft.
- Add the Merlot and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the beef stock, tomatoes and their juices.
- If using an Instapot or pressure cooker, secure the lid and follow manufacturer’s instructions to bring the pot to a simmer. Reduce to low, and simmer for 45 minutes until the pork is tender. If using a Dutch oven, simmer covered on the stove top on low heat for about 3 ½ hours, or until the meat is falling apart. Stir occasionally. You can also place the Dutch oven in the oven as a baking pan: cook the meat covered at 300°F for 3 ½ hours covered at 300°F for 3 ½ hours.
- Serve wild boar ragú over pappardelle pasta.