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What is Wild Boar

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  1. Screwed up my first post on this board. Sorry. Wild boar appears all over the place. There cannot be enough hunters to hill enough pigs in the woods. Is it just a domesticated version of what was once a wild animal--as happened with venison? Is it fake/

    1. Wild boar--or more likely, feral pigs--are common in the South, in the coast range of California, in parts of Hawaii and other Pacific islands, as well as in places like Sumatra, Indonesia, where muslims don't eat them and they are a huge pest. The South has had problems with pig populations displacing native fauna.

      1. Wild boar are found on many islands in Japan, including Honshu, the main island. They are often a pest to farmers there, busting in a stealing vegetables. Of course, some of them don't turn out to be so lucky. Wild boar hot pot is a winter dish common in some areas. Interestingly, wild board used to be nicknamed "mountain whale" because the meats resemble each other.

        1. We are in FL and my husband goes boar hunting with his buddies. It is a feral pig. Pretty intense process using dogs which usually get injured blah, blah, blah!

          1. As usual, the Chow ingrediants section has almost everything you want to know about wild boar including a recipe for wild boar ragu
            http://www.chow.com/ingredients/173

            From that link ...

            "The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is the ancestor of the domestic pig and was brought to North America by Spanish explorers. Wild boars have been found from Europe to Central Asia and from the Baltic to North Africa since ancient times and were domesticated in northern Europe by about 1500 b.c. "

            "The lean meat of boar can range in flavor from mild and delicate to gamy, depending on variety, season, diet, and age. The most tender cuts come from the loin. "

            Should you be interested in cooking up some boar, here's an online ranch that raises free-range wild boar ... isn't that a self-canceling phrase?
            http://www.brokenarrowranch.com/About...

            The Chow ingrediant list suggests how to select your boar and how much to order. It also offers food affinities.

            Other wild boar info
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boar
            http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu...

            1 Reply
            1. re: rworange

              The message to my post somehow never made it up. My Q is there's a lot of wild boar served in restos in the US now. Is it really feral, or is it a wild pig that has bee domesticated like deer in New Zealand?

            2. Wild boar (sus scrofa) is actually a species (or subspecises, depending on which taxonomist you ask) distinct from the domestic pig (sus domesticus, or sus scrofa domesticus).

              Here in California, domestic pigs struck out on their own and became feral shortly after the first Europeans arrived. Then, around the turn of the last century, wild boar from Europe were introduced. The current pests are wild-feral hybrids. They show many of the characteristics of their wild ancestors--shaggy coats, straight tails, elongated snouts, and large tusks--that are not found in domestic animals.

              It's my understanding that selling the meat of wild animals is illegal in the US. This may be a function of state law, and, if so, there may be some states where it is not the case, but "game" meat here is almost universally raised on farms.

              Presumably restaurants in the US are serving dishes made from farm-raised animals that are recently descended from wild pigs, and that share their wild cousins' physical characteristics. On the other hand, if you go to Europe (or if you have a hunter / foodie friend) you may be able to get truly wild game.

              As others have noted, wild and/or feral pigs are a real pest in some agricultural areas. I was discussing "The Omnivore's Dilemma" with a friend who lives on a farm in the Sierra foothills. He indicated that he'd be delighted for a hunter to remove some or all of the porcine inhabitants of his property. I've never hunted, but Michael Pollan's description of the pig roast he held is certainly tempting...

              1 Reply
              1. re: alanbarnes

                Packages of frozen meat labelled "Wild Boar" can be found in many Asian markets in the Los Angeles area. Never tried any, but I've also seen it on some Asian restaurant menus.

              2. I remember this article from way back..and it's online.

                http://www.sfweekly.com/1998-09-02/ne...

                1 Reply
                1. re: ML8000

                  Just one of many references to a recent kill:

                  http://www.prophetsplace.com/blog/?p=405

                  The shot is not PS'd

                2. Tartuffe, you seem to be located in the DC area, so I can't speak about your specific area, but in Canada, with the exception of caribou, all game sold in butcher shops and restaurants is farmed. Our wild boar, so far as I understand, is the European wild boar species imported and raised under the usual controlled farmed conditions.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: hungry_pangolin

                    I believe its legal to sell the meat of trapped animals in Maryland; until a few years ago, muskrat (part of our version of Brunswick stew along with squirrel) was sold in Baltimore's version of Montreal's Atwater Mkt . It sounds as if the name "wild boar" is a form of consumer fraud because it implies that the meat came from a feral animal.

                    1. re: tartuffe

                      I wouldn't call it fraud, but it certainly isn't the most accurate label. I think that most people here are aware that game in a restaurant isn't actually wild.

                      Why did they stop selling muskrat? And what in God's name does it taste like? Do *not* say like chicken! ;-)

                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                        I only had muskrat when I was a little boy, and I cannot temember the taste. Until roughly 1990, or maybe later, it could be bought in Lexington Mkt, which is the largest market in Balto. (Think Atwater's, but quality is not the same, except maybe for crabs and arsters.) MakingSense has a good explanation of why it died out, but I think as people like my grandmother died off. there was not much demand for it.

                        1. re: tartuffe

                          Its availability in Baltimore and New Orleans may have something to do with their pre-Vatican II Catholic populations. Since it lives in the water, muskrat (aka "marsh rabbit") is an acceptable protein for the Lenten fast.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            I don't remember that we could eat muskrat on Friday in New Orleans. Frankly, not many people did; it was more of a swamp/Cajun dish for those who ate it at all. If they did it would have been because muskrat eat vegetation or seafood, not meat. There was a sea duck called poule d'eau that was allowed on Friday and during Lent because it ate fish. It tasted like it too - very fishy, strong flavor. It tastes just like the sea ducks that are common in the Chesapeake Bay region. I have to brine those for a day or two before cooking them or they are really too strong.

                      2. re: tartuffe

                        It is illegal for recreational hunters, trappers and fisherman to sell whatever it is they acquire which includes meat, pelts, trophy heads, etc. It is also illegal to keep wild game captive. There are different rules for commercial hunters, trappers and fishermen. There are exceptions under federal and state laws, which allows licensed game farms to breed, raise, kill (or allow to be killed by others), and sell game or meat from game. There are farms which raise game birds, deer, wild boar and other animals for recreational hunting or for slaughter for sale to restaurants or meat markets. Large game animals can be contained by fences and are allowed to roam, so can be called free-range, and do have much of the flavor of wild game although their diet can be better controlled and they are often far better fed. The flavor can be standardized because the game farm knows how old the animals are when they are slaughtered for market. If desired, they can be corralled and fed a specific diet for the few weeks prior to slaughter to affect the flavor.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          MakingSense, you're from the same region as tartuffe, and seem to be up on details. I'm curious about muskrat, which you don't address. Was it an exception that was removed? We had muskrat where I grew up, and no one ever mentioned eating them. Ever. And we had some poor folk around.

                          1. re: hungry_pangolin

                            I live in the Chesapeake Bay region now but I'm originally from Louisiana. Lots of friends who hunt and fish and I've done some too, so I just grew up with the rules. Most are federal regulations so you gotta watch your step.
                            No muskrat in La. (we have nutria) but muskrat are an all too common destructive nuisance rodent in the Delmarva region.
                            They may have been available in markets some time ago but the DNR rules have been changing over the past few years, and sale was probably made illegal. They're likely to outlaw steel traps this year in MD which means that there won't be any more muskrat trapping for pelts so even private consumption of meat will end. Legally, that is.
                            Rural people, particularly the poor, eat what is available with little regard for hunting and trapping regulations. Often, DNR officers will pretend they don't notice violations if they know that a local is taking game for their own family's consumption. Nobody talks about it.

                            There is a lot of stuff that you CAN eat. There's a lot of stuff that you might not WANT to eat if you have a choice. I would put nutria, muskrat, possum, armadillo, and few other critters on my personal list. I'm half Cajun and will eat damn near anything but these are not a few of my favorite things.

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              armadillo especially. I'm not sure if there's ever been a "proven" case of transmission to humans through consumption of their meat, but armadillos are known carriers of leprosy. Not that it's what it was before antibiotics (which can readily cure it properly administered), but probably not something you want to mess with for "no good reason."

                          2. re: MakingSense

                            MakingSense: hypothetical:
                            my nephew has killed several deer and wild boar. he has several of their heads mounted and on the walls in his living room. he cannot sell those if he wanted? (not that HE would ever consider it ;-)

                            1. re: alkapal

                              From what I understand, that is true. Hunters can't sell mounted game trophies. Several years ago there was a story in the Washington Post about Federal agents raiding some antique shops, of all things, in Virginia and fining the owners for selling stuffed heads and game birds. (Sort of Ralph Lauren decor, I guess.)
                              There are exceptions, of course, for those who have commercial tags for hunting because they are allowed to sell what they bag. I have a huge mounted alligator head but the wooden base bears the Federal ID that the hunter had which allowed him to kill it during the regulated hunt. He sold the skin and meat and gave the head to my father who had it mounted for me. The gator was a 14 footer. Nice trophy.
                              If your nephew is a recreational hunter, he wouldn't have the commercial tags to sell his mounted trophies legally.

                      3. I have heard Mother refer to meat that had "that old boar" taste. Such meat was so bad tasting it was regarded as inedible. So -- maybe there's an age beyond which one should not bother to try to use the animal.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Sharuf

                          Old-fashioned recipe books often have at least one for "Pork To Taste Like Wild Boar," with heavy red-wine/vinegar/spice marinades, sorta like pork sauerbraten. It'd probably take more than that to make one of our factory pigs taste feral...

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            i think the vinegar was to tenderize and mask gamey flavor in real wild boar cookery. so to turn plain old boar into "tastes like wild", just obscure the flavor! ha! what do you think?

                        2. I had wild boar recently at a restaurant out West, and although I like the taste of most game, I found this meat to be unpleasant. It was beautifully cooked to medium rare by a wonderful chef, and although it was supposed to be roasted and served with a sauce of huckleberries and strawberries, it had blueberries and grape tomatoes, which ruined the dish. I thought it was way too gamey and bitter. However, I once roasted a very tiny boneless wild boar roast and it was okay.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: piecrust

                            Back when I was a kid back in Poland (30+ years back) my G-father used to get (hunt) real wild boar....very good stuff but extremely "gamey" taste.....stronger taste that Black Bear or Moose which I had in Canada on a number of ocasions. I tried the stuff presented as "Wild Boar" in US and it's not the same...a notch above normal pork in terms of taste....

                          2. Well, this thread has inspired me to look at the websites for various hunting guides around Northern and Central California. Not sure whether any actual hunting is in my future, but if it happens I'll be sure to post on the flavor.

                            Anyway, many of the guides make a clear distinction between "trophy boars" and "meat pigs." Apparently young animals make far superior eating compared to the big guys with the vicious-looking tusks. Which makes sense; consider the difference in flavor between a frying chicken and an old rooster. Just multiply the stronger flavor of the rooster by, well, a whole lot.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              The older any game animal is, the tougher the meat. They don't just stand around in fields grazing like even the best grass-fed beef or free-range pork or chickens. They have to work to get their food or even just stay alive. As a cook, you treat game meat differently depending on the age of the animal from which it came.

                              The flavor of the animal is determined by its diet. You are what you eat. Like the acorn-fed pigs used for hams in Spain which differ in flavor from corn-fed pigs.
                              Much of farmed wild game is contained in specific fields or forests where their diet is limited to the vegetation there. It can even by corralled for the last period of its life and fed a controlled diet to alter the taste of the meat.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                Apparently some of the wild swine around here have very predictable diets based upon the agricultural character of their territories. Large walnut orchards and vineyards make it unnecessary for the pigs to work very hard for their suppers. The orchard owners find the pigs a pest, since they dig up the ground rooting for fallen nuts. The vineyard owners see them as a plague; a wild pig goes through fences as if they weren't even there and eats the grapes as fast as the vines produce them.

                                I wonder if wine pairing should be influenced by the varietal grown in the vineyard the boar was raiding. Would it be a faux pas to serve a zinfandel with a pinot-raised pig?