I’ve been looking forward to this week for quite a few months. I didn’t know exactly when it would come, but I knew it would.
I received a phone call from my dad a few months ago. An excited phone call that started noticeably different to most others, to the degree that I was slightly worried upon answering and hearing him start off with “yeah Mike, just quickly calling…”. This was soon eased and his excitement matched by mine when he filled me in on the conversation he’d just had with a cocky (farmer) client of his, Graeme Patterson on his property at Mount Nimrod in the back high country of South Canterbury (cue Scribe quotes…), back in the motherland- New Zealand.
It went something like this (100% my version…):
Graeme- “Tony, yeah I’m about 3000ft feet up around the ridge and one of me pig traps has just gone off. There’s a little wild pig got itself in a spot of bother. I’ve taken care of it though”
Dad- “Yeah gidday Graeme, oh that sounds bloody great. She’s a good one?”
Graeme- “Yeah-na she’s a good little hog alright, you’re boy will be able to use this for his blooge thing, no doubt.”
Dad- “Oh hell yeah, that’ll be bloody great Graeme he’ll love getting his hands on some wild pig meat.”
Graeme- “Well I’ll gut the little bastard and have it ready for you in a few days”
Dad- “Beaut, I’ll skin and chop ‘er up for Mike and let ya know how it goes.”
Graeme- “No worries, Tony, one less little pest around these hills I can tell ya!”
I’m sure it was probably something like that. That’s my city boy version of how dad speaks to farmers… Unfortunately there wasn’t photographic evidence of the little pig with farmer, or hanging carcass at Brockley rd Timaru. Evidently, and sadly for your viewing pleasure, not everyone is so excited about capturing every possible photo opportunity when it comes to meat. Luckily for you I am a massive geek so manage to get snaps of most other opportunities.
Dad on the other hand was as excited about this meat and my eventual cooking of it as a gay teenager is when about to see Lady Gaga perform live. I can’t blame him, I was pretty enthusiastic to get my hands on another wild animal (read my previous wild NZ editions VENISON and MUTTONBIRD), this one caught, killed and butchered specifically for me, my 52 meat challenge and your reading on this very blog. That’s pretty cool! Just don’t do it with a koala right…
So, as the first half of the year rapidly draws to a conclusion, I’ve flown home to New Zealand for my dad’s birthday as well as making the most of the occasion and cooking the best part of an entire Wild Sow (this is a female wild pig, a boar being the male) for the family. Minus dad who was holed up in a hospital bed, having had his knee operated on (well more specifically one of his knees, he has two you see). In fact he’s almost more cyborg than man when it comes to his knees. Seriously lacking in his robot dance though.
This is where some pressure starts to creep in. Another wild game meat. This carries risk of ending up tough if poorly done. I had requested that dad bring all of the meat available up to my sister’s in Christchurch as I thought why not make a proper feast of it?
So I did, with my childhood in mind. Ever since dad called me and told me about this wild pig, which I assumed to be a wild boar initially, I had thought after thought rampaging through my head of the feasts they used to have in the comic book Asterix. I read these as a kid and the thing that hangs most vividly in my memory is the massive, juicy and scrumptious looking boars they would devour in their feasts, especially Obelix, who would easily demolish an entire one by himself. I was always drawn to them and thought they looked delicious, wishing I could eat them- turns out the meat geek in me was alive and well back then.
So the day came and I was faced with both front legs, both back legs and the loins. Now I think we know by now that I’m not one to shy away from meat, so I decided to act very un-Kermit like and attack Miss Piggy head on and do three consecutive meals.
Here’s what I did:
- Meal 1- Lunch on Saturday
Over a nice glass of NZ Shiraz on Friday night I got one of the hind legs ready by rubbing it with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and fresh garlic. This then sat in the fridge over night and I put into the oven after breakfast at 130°C with a small amount of water and white wine, covered and cooked for close to 3 and a half hours.
How did it turn out?
Tender, juicy, packed full of flavour and absolutely divine! I loved it immediately. As the day had worked out there was only two of us dining for lunch and KT was hit by a relatively overpowering bite of paprika initially which threw her off the real taste for a short while, but she soon fell for this wild pigs charm. I actually felt that the flavour was not too dissimilar to the possum meat, if the possum had been a bit more tender and juicy. In fact I actually said “hmmm, the flavour is familiar…” and got rather mocked for it by KT. Snobbish she thought. Huh?
The result; a definite winner!!
- Meal 2– Dinner on Saturday
As soon as lunch had wrapped up I began preparation for dinner. This was to be a slow cooked Thai style wild pork and kumara curry. I had grabbed the necessary ingredients earlier when visiting dad, so I chopped up both front legs and added this meat along with the required extras to the slow cooker, stirred and left for 4 hours.
I returned to visit dad again and continue to instruct him on his new nutritional approach to life, health and no more knee operations… I’m sure he was glad to see me go!
Upon return to MC’s house the smell was immense and captivating. I decided that for this meal to come together at the right time I needed to move the whole dish to a large stock pot and crank the heat somewhat. This done and my black rice on, the dish was coming together nicely.
Plans changed around the dining part so I decided to pack servings for dad and I and head off to enjoy the curry with the man responsible for getting me this little swine, a much better option for dinner in the end!
How’d it turn out?
Dad enjoyed the curry enormously, well I’m not sure his post operation belly was a huge fan, but outside of that he loved it. Ironically it acted much like a fan for the remainder of the night… I was the same (minus the, ah… wind)- this dish was superb! The flavours were intoxicating, the meat tender and full of rich flavour. Similar to the GOAT CURRY but with a richer taste I think.
The result; another winner!
- Meal 3– Breakfast on Sunday
After waking to a very vocal niece, I shot downstairs, removed the meat from the fridge so it could come to room temperature, seasoned it and eagerly anticipated my meaty breakfast.
When ready I got the pan hot, added the meat and made a small side dish of feijoa, Greek yoghurt and cinnamon. I did have to answer questions from my 3 going on 30year old niece Millie- “Why are you cooking? You can’t cook
dinner, lunch, ah breakfast.”
Once I’d informed her that “in my house, why yes you can”, I sat down to enjoy my third consecutive meal from the little piggy that walked into the wrong cage.
How’d it turn out?
This was my chance to taste this lovely meat sans extras, which I was eager to do as a comparison to other meats and I suppose most pertinently the domesticated pig. It was simple and delicious. It held the familiar flavour of pork, but with a richness to it that is often the case with wild or game meats. It was tender, packed with juices and an absolute delight to enjoy on a freezing Christchurch morning. And to those who know (so the Kiwi’s out there) the feijoa yoghurt combo was beautiful. Feijoa’s have a short season and I always make the most when and if I’m in NZ to indulge.
The result; yet another winner!
The wild sow was kicking goals all over the place. The Three Little Pigs couldn’t withstand my wolf like tenacity and got dominated with three different dishes and three supreme triumphs.
Would I have it again?
A definitive yes! I’ll be in dad’s ear to contact Graeme for another pig for my Xmas trip home. This meat was amazingly tasty and of course being a wild animal- jam packed full of wonderful nutrients. I can 100% recommend getting your teeth into some wild boar, or sow as this was, and enjoying for yourself. If you can stomach the idea of eating a wild little Babe…
Which dish of the three was best?
This is a tough one, as I thoroughly prized them all, and they were such different dishes. However, there has to be a winner right? So, I’m going to say the curry was best, then the slow roasted leg then the loin. For now. Ask me tomorrow and it will most likely be different, that’s how close they were and how much I liked all 3 immeasurably.
Make sure you take a look at the TOP TEN MEATS as this has landed firmly in there, just where exactly… have a look and see how this one ranks compared to the rest this year.
Who has eaten wild pig before? What about one caught specifically for you, or caught yourself? Any good stories out there? I’d love to hear them.
Massive thanks this week to my family, especially dad, and to Graeme Patterson for providing this meat. It’s such a thrill to be able to enjoy the meat of a wild animal, one that you know exactly what its story is from life to plate!
The meat geek in me is well and truly satisfied, three times over!
And finally- who ate a meat outside their comfort zone last week, anyone? Possum? Any flexitarians delve into a juicy piece of lamb? Please do share…
After all, as my shrewd 3 year old niece told me this weekend “Lamb is good for you Michael”. Can’t argue with that!
Remember to get over to facebook and ‘Like’ my page and follow me more closely there, and please share around if you like. Spreading the word through social media is a massive help!