We were given a massive parcel of local wild boar at the beginning of the year, which as I take it out to defrost, I realise is a lot of meat, and I need to decide, rather quickly, what to cook.
Wild boar makes a very delicious goulash – so I’ve decided to dice all the tender meat into large bite-sized cubes and go down the goulash route. I will slowly braise the meatier bones for a rich wild boar ragu, and the small hock will contribute to a hearty and meaty bean broth. What a treat – food for free and for weeks.
Firstly wild boar needs marinating. I covered everything in plenty of red wine with three tablespoons of red wine vinegar, added a bay leaf, peppercorns and allspice and left it for twenty-four hours.
A few words about goulash …..
Although I’m calling this a goulash, I’m not sure how authentic it is. In her excellent bible of European food, European Peasant Cookery, Elizabeth Luard clearly distinguishes between the various Hungarian or Austro-Hungarian dishes and recipes we associate with goulash or paprika-flavoured stew – each with their subtle differences.
Paprikas, the least paprikery stew, is made with white meat or fish and soured cream. Porkolt is a beef stew made with paprika, caraway seeds and soured cream and is often served with sauerkraut.
And finally, Paprika soup with dumplings, or gulyasleves (the soup) or gulyashus (the stew). In other words, what we call goulash is made with beef but adds potatoes, dumplings and root vegetables, omitting the soured cream or caraway. There are also paprika ‘goulash’ recipes from Serbia, Northern Italy, Slovenia, Germany and Ethiopia and at least eight more Hungarian versions with beans, lamb, pork and pasta! So plenty of room for a Greek-inspired wild boar version.
South Pelion Wild Boar Goulash
After marinating the meat, drain it (reserving the marinade) and dry it with a kitchen towel. Sear the meat in plenty of olive oil and then add the onion, celery, garlic, chopped red pepper and chopped carrots. Cook for a few minutes or until the onions are translucent. Stir in the oregano, caraway seeds, bay leaf, sweet and hot paprika and half the wine marinade.
Bring to a boil and then simmer on very low heat. After thirty minutes, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, the tinned tomatoes, and a little more marinade. Meanwhile, chop the potatoes and add them after the first hour of cooking. Simmer gently adding more marinade until the meat and potatoes are soft. Remember the stew should resemble more of a soup/stew.
This batch of local boar was very gamey and made a fabulous rich stew. You can, of course, replace boar with beef, lamb or vegetables and beans, and replace the marinade with stock etc. If possible, it is also better to cook the goulash a day in advance and then reheat it on the day of serving – like any stew it’s always better the next day.
Garnish with soured cream and smoked paprika. Serve with a big green salad, sauerkraut or cabbage salad and plenty of bread to mop up the sauce.
Wild Boar Goulash
- 1 cast iron casserole dish or dutch oven
- 1 kilo wild boar stewing meat cut in 5-6cm pieces
- 2 large onions – roughly chopped
- 2 carrots – sliced into rings
- 1 large celery branch including the leaves – roughly chopped
- 600 g potatoes – cut into large cubes you can swap some of the potatoes for turnips or parsnips
- 1 large sweet red pepper – seeded and cut into large strips
- 3 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tin cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes
- olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-3 tbsp soured cream
- 1 tsp smoked paprika or sweet paprika
- 2-3 stalks parsely
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp all spice berries
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- Add the wild boar and marinade spices to a large non-metallic bowl. Add the wine until it covers the meat. Add the wine vinegar and cover. Leave in the fridge overnight or for up to 24 hours.
- Drain the meat reserving the wine but discarding the spices. Dab the meat dry and brown in olive oil in the casserole dish. Add the onions, carrots, celery and red pepper. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the herbs and sweet and hot paprika. Toss over to cover the meat in the spices and add half the wine marinade.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer on very low heat. After thirty minutes, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, the tinned tomatoes, and a little more marinade.
- Meanwhile, chop the potatoes and add them after the first hour of cooking. Simmer gently adding more marinade until the meat and potatoes are soft. Each time you add the marinade – bring the stew back to a boil for a couple of minutes and then turn it down to a slow simmer. This version has lots of sauce – more like the traditional goulash soup. It is up to you how soupy or stewy you want it to be.
- Depending on the meat – it may need 2 – 3 hours to cook*. Adjust the cooking times if you swap the wild boar for other meats.
- Garnish with soured cream and smoked paprika. Serve with a big green salad, sauerkraut or cabbage salad and plenty of bread to mop up the sauce.