Boar hunting dates back to the dawn of time. Traces of it have been found in all civilizations and many historical accounts mention it. The strength of this animal has always impressed.
In France, hunting was obviously important during the Gallic era: the enormous appetite of Obelix, hero of the famous comic book of the late 20th century, brought fame to this animal. In the Middle Ages, it was the only game that the yokels (serfs, peasants, commoners) had the right to hunt.
The wild boar lives mainly in forests, but is not afraid to approach houses, or to devastate fields, because it feeds by burrowing into the ground with its snout in search of worms, acorns, plants, and fungi, etc.
It is found on all continents, and is sometimes domesticated and farmed.
However, as it is very prolific, in some countries wild boar hunts are organized to limit groups that have grown too big, especially when they are causing damage.
The wild boar has its role in the ecosystem. When it is seeking food, it digs up and aerates the forest floor and can move around fungal spores (it can cover 30 km in one night), especially truffles, spreading them elsewhere.
The older a wild boar is, the tougher and stronger tasting is its flesh. The marcassin produces the most delicate meat.
Its color ranges from pink to dark red. It should not be dry, but slightly glossy.
A wild boar is butchered the same way as a pig. The pieces are the same.
Wild boar is sold fresh, vacuum-packed, frozen, or in preserves (pâtés, terrines, etc.).
In Europe, whatever the season, the sale of wild boar, as with any game, is subject to very strict legislation, whether it is hunted in France or abroad.
Marcassin meat does not need to be marinated because it is tender: the fillet can be roasted, while the tournedos and chops can be shallow fried.
The meat of an older wild boar needs to be marinated for a variable amount of time, depending on the age of the animal. It is also cooked for a long time on a gentle simmer: in a stew or civet, braised, or in a casserole.
It is accompanied by seasonal vegetables and fruit: mushrooms, cabbage, artichokes, salsify, quince, chestnuts, pears, and prunes, etc.
Although grand veneur sauce (huntsman's sauce) is a classic, prepared from the marinade, a sweet-and-sour sauce is also a good accompaniment for this meat, or a cranberry jelly or honey glaze.
Both marcassin and wild boar can be made into pâtés and terrines.
Wild boar should be stored in a cold room between 0 and 4°C.
The meat should be kept away from ventilation or drafts, otherwise it will dry out very quickly.
To protect it, it can be stored in grape seed oil or in a covered plastic tray. In this case, it must be placed on a rack to stop it from soaking in its own blood.
Wild boar meat is very rich in protein and low in fat.
Wild boar is sometimes associated with trichinosis, a parasite that can be transmitted but which is destroyed by a long cooking time or freezing for 10 days at -15°C. In principle, meat sold has always been checked at the slaughterhouse by the veterinary services and should be healthy. However, caution must be exercised when buying the meat from a private hunter.
There is only one species of wild boar, but many subspecies are found on all continents of the world.
In France, this animal has different names according to its age and sex.
The female is called laie (sow).
Regardless of gender, it is a marcassin up to the age of 6 months.
. From 6 months–1 year, it is called bête rousse (red beast) because of its reddish coat. It weighs 15–60 kg.
. From 1–2 years' old, it is a bête de compagnie. It weighs 60–80 kg.
. At 2 years old, it is a ragot or bête noire (black beast): its coat is now black.
. At 3 years old, it is called tiers-an (third year) and quartenier at 4 years old.
It then becomes a porc entier (full pig), then a solitaire (loner) or ermite (hermit) when older.
The wild boar can live up to the age of 30 and weighs 100–250 kg.
Wild boar meat is available (from a wholesaler only) throughout the year.
However, in fall and winter, i.e. during the hunting period, wild boar is a welcome addition to a menu.