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Slow Roast Wild Boar Belly with Cider & Puy Lentils

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One day, on a trip to Borough Market, I spied two burly butchers carrying what looked like a small and very hairy headless werewolf about the size of a large dog with great hurry into their shop. I had had a couple of glasses of wine, so with much speed and no hesitation I ran in after them to enquire, is that a wild boar?! YES, I was told grumpily, as they slammed it on the counter. It was bristly and muddy, and very much wild; this little guy had come straight from the forest.

Fresh wild boar! OOOH, maybe I could buy some of the belly? I popped in some days later to enquire. There was none on the counter but they had some out the back, and carved a 1.5kg slab for me to take home and play with in exchange for £12 per kilo. I sound like a wild boar myself now, don’t I? But, my, I was curious and very excited! What would it be like? How would it compare with my beloved pork belly?

I decided, in the interest of science, and obsession, to do a controlled experiment, and to cook it as I often cook pork belly, on a semi-slow roast, with cider and lentils so that I could compare and contrast.

What was it like? Clear, there was real clarity of flavour, if that makes any sense, but that was the first thing I thought. It was fatty, as belly always is, but it seemed less so, as this fella had been running around the forests, getting very muddy as he went. He didn’t have the same opportunity domestic pigs have to pile on those piggy pounds, but it had enough fat to retain much moisture and give it a beautiful flavour. The fat was present but didn’t overwhelm. I loved it.

The only problem is the price and lack of availability, but for a special treat, I’ll be seeking this one out. Delicious! The lentils are unctuous and creamy with the wild boar fat, and a lovely compliment to the tender meat and crispy crackling. If you want some vegetables on the side it’s lovely with some extra roasted carrots and a little cavolo nero. The vegetables in this recipe function as a trivet and supply flavour but are discarded at the end of the cooking process.

Notes for the recipe: keep an eye on the lentils once you add them, and make sure they have enough liquid adding more cider/stock if you need to. You can’t go wrong if you add a little at a time, worst case scenario is that you have lots of lovely wild boar gravy left over. Make sure you keep the crackling dry when you add more liquid.

PS. Forgive the photo. I’ve lost my photo mojo since my camera was stolen. Styling seems pointless with a small semi-broken thing. (I have to open the lens shield with my fingernail). Next purchase = a new one.

Slow Roast Wild Boar Belly with Cider & Puy Lentils

Ingredients:

1.5kg wild boar belly, skin scored by your butcher or with a Stanley knife
3 carrots, cut in half lengthwise for the belly to sit on
2 large shallots or 1 medium onion, skinned and halved
A few cloves of garlic, skins on
A bay leaf or two
A few springs of fresh thyme
White peppercorns (black if you don’t have them but I love white peppercorns with pork)
250g puy lentils
250ml cider
250ml stock (pork or chicken best, vegetable is ok too) plus a little extra stock/cider on hand should you need them
Sea salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Pour some boiling water over the skin of the pork in a colander or similar. Dry the skin, wiping with a kitchen towel. Sprinkle with some sea salt. The skin will have puffed up which will aid the crackling.
Place the pork in an oiled deep tray on top of the carrots, shallots, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and bay. Roast the pork for 20 minutes. The skin will start to blister.
Turn the heat down to 160 degrees and roast for a further 40 minutes.
Add the lentils and the cider and stock and roast for a further hour. The lentils should be tender by now.
Turn the heat back up to 220 and roast for 10-15 minutes, to make sure the crackling is crisp – take care not to burn it. It really doesn’t need very long.
Discard the vegetables and serve the sliced wild boar belly with the lentils and some of the lovely cidery gravy.

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I like food. I like to make food. Eat food. Photograph food. Write about food. Mainly in London but when I am lucky or organised further afield.

18 Comments

  1. What a fantastic looking dish (and I think the photo is pretty good – half broken camera or not).

    I’ve never thought of adding the lentils to the roasting tray to slowly cook in the stock/juice/gravy coming off the meat, and I imagine it’s a great combo with the cider.

    The few occasions i’ve had wild boar, i always found it slightly gamey with a clear (I know where you;re coming from with ‘clarity’) and strong boary flavour. A different thing altogether to most pork.

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  2. I love your enthusiasm for wild boar. It looks and sounds delicious. Is it fair to say that you prefer it to normal pork then? Or just as an occasional treat?

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  3. First off, wow!….Look at that meat!! It looks great! I should try to get my cook of a husband to try this out!

    Secondly, I wanted to let all my fellow foodies know about a promotion I recently heard about. I work for a company that does restaurant reviews and throught the grapevine heard about a promotion that is ti appear in the Metro THIS Wed. March 24th. The Metro is running a special Celebrate the City promotion that is wine and food lead! Dine at one of the participating restaurants and recieve a free glass of wine, champagne, or a cocktail! There are many local restaurants included and can be found all over the city. I hope all of my fellow foodies out there can find the time to take advantage of this promotion! Let us know what your experience is like if you go! :)

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  4. That’s one seriously expensive piece of meat. Belly is supposed to be a cheap cut, but apparently not if you buy it from a premium animal.

    No matter – you get what you pay for, and I’m a huge fan of boar’s gamier taste. It’s a wonderful meat.

    I might have to have a quiet word with my butcher tomorrow…

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  5. Sorry you’re still having camera issues.

    The boar looks and sounds delicious. Wild boar ragu is one of my top ten favourite dishes but this looks like it could rival it.

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  6. wow! the only wild thing I had was a venison when my brother decided to cook it in France in the eighties ; wild boar sounds very interesting but I would probably love these lentils too!

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  9. So I made this dish…..excellent flavour and really easy to do. To drink, we had a cote du rhone red “Sablet” 2007 and it went down a treat. It took longer than described here for my lentils to cook and I had to add more cider and cover the roast with foil, but it was still good. Thanks for the recipe, now I have another way of preparing wild boar!

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  10. I once saw possibly the same butchers in Borough Market bring a wild boar to their stall. Headless, it did indeed look very like a huge dog. One butcher, grumpy just as you describe, lay the beast on the floor in front of the stall and drew out a huge knife, about to skin it. This spectacle drew an audience of 7-8 young children, whereupon the butcher plunged the knife in with relish, crying ‘Bad boy, bad boy!’

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  11. how many does this recipe serve? looks awesome and trying to show parents im not a total culinary disaster!!!

    Reply

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