Cheap, Sustainable, Delicious: Wild Boar Tenderloin With Roasted Vegetables and Red Wine Reduction

Kill a feral pig lately? This is the first dish you should cook.

How to turn an invasive species into a hearty dinner. (Photo: Ian Knauer)

Ian Knauer worked for ‘Gourmet’ and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook ‘The Farm.’

A month ago I read a great piece on this site by Christina Kharbertyan about eating invasive species as a sustainable solution to feeding ourselves. It’s a great idea. Certain foreign plants and animals tend to take over in nature, upsetting the natural balance and wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Most of us won’t pick our own garlic mustard or dig for Asian clams for dinner—but I’m here to tell you that most of us can and should. The opening photograph of Christina’s piece is a regal shot of a Russian boar—a wild pig—an animal known by every farmer as a killer of crops. Pigs eat everything they can find. They destroy just about everything they come across.

Most of the wild boar in this country have escaped from farms and reverted back to the wild. In fact, once they are back in the woods and fields, they begin to grow tusks again, making them somewhat dangerous.

I live in Pennsylvania, where, as in many states, there is an open season for hunting wild pigs. You don’t even need a hunting license to shoot them. This week, I went hunting for wild boar and I shot one.

My freezer is now packed to the gills with a pig that weighed almost 200 pounds. And I’ll eat every part of him: liver, kidneys, intestines for sausage, even the head, which I’ll craft into an unbelievably flavorful Italian-style headcheese. But to start, I cooked the tenderloin, a hunter’s prize due to its, well, tenderness.

The flavor of wild boar is gamier than conventionally raised pig. It has a woodsy musk to it, making it even more delicious.

If you’re not up for shooting your own wild boar, find yourself a pig farmer who raises his animals in good husbandry and provides them with a happy life while they’re alive.

Wild Boar Tenderloin With Roasted Vegetables and Red Wine Reduction

Serves 4

1 pound carrots

2 fennel bulbs, with fronds

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

fine salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 (1 pound) wild boar tenderloins

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup red wine

2 tablespoons currant jelly

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut carrots into pieces. Trim fennel and cut bulbs, saving some fronds, into wedges. Toss vegetables with butter and 3/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast vegetables in oven until browned and tender, about 35 minutes.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot. Sprinkle tenderloins with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, then brown, turning once, in skillet. Transfer skillet in oven and roast until pork is cooked through but still slightly pink in center, about 12 minutes. Transfer boar to a serving plate and let stand while making sauce.

Add wine and jelly to skillet and bring to a simmer over high heat. Boil sauce until reduces to a glaze, about 6 minutes.

Slice boar and serve over roasted vegetables, topped with sauce and reserved fronds.

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