I don't cook much meat. I never quite know what to do with it. Give me anything from the sea – whole fish, squid, mussels, octopus, scampi, shrimp, lobster – and I can transform it into something delicious. But meat? It's not where my expertise lies. And when I do eat meat, I like to know a fair bit about where it comes from. While this is becoming easier and easier in North America, Hungarian producers are, for the most part, still opaque. And so we buy from the Jankovich Birtok Estate, where the autumn hunt for wild deer (red, fallow and roe) and boar has opened.
Game? It has a bad reputation – a reputation for being tough, overly lean and, well, gamey. But it needn't be: when cooked properly, it is splendiferous. Plus, as Michael Pollan has argued for years, it matters what the animals you eat themselves have eaten. In this measure, wild game is some of the healthiest meat around. The animals are not fed a diet of corn; rather, they forage and eat a wide variety of grasses and plants.
Last night: one 1/2 kilogram loin of wild boar.
Marinate, for a couple of hours:
- With your hands, mix olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh mint, and fresh sage in a small bowl. Rub all over the meat, making sure to work the marinade in to the flesh.
Sear, then roast over low heat:
- Preheat the oven to 300, and prepare a roasting pan with a small bit of olive oil.
- Heat more olive oil in a large skillet (enough to coat the bottom), and sear the loin for 1-2 min. per side.
- Place loin on roasting pan, and cook for 30 min. per pound.
- When done, remove from oven and place on a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 min. before slicing. While waiting, make the sauce.
- Place a swig of red wine in a small saucepan, along with a few squares of good chocolate, a bay leaf, a star anise, and 6-8 juniper berries. Heat gently, stirring all the while to melt the chocolate. Add the pan drippings and increase to a light simmer. Serve over the sliced loin.
Yes, we must work on plating. Arg.