Apply wild garlic and a steak to the heart…

Boar steak, wilted wild garlic and Jerusalem artichoke mash

Keeping it fresh and local with a rather decadent mid-week dish: boar steak, wilted wild garlic, and a Jerusalem artichoke mash.

My wonderful local butcher in Todmorden market normally has a range of interesting game in stock, but boar caught my eye on the blackboard last Saturday. I wasn’t sure which cut to buy, so after taking his advice I opted for a chunky leg steak and then mused how best to cook it when I got home. This is local boar, raised a couple of miles from Tod centre: always good to know there aren’t many food miles on my dinner plate. In the dim and distant past this part of the Pennines would’ve been home to wild boar, rooting around the Kingdom of Elmet trying to find goodies to eat. Including (allegedly) wild garlic…

Also on a local tip, I’d been given a pointer by a foodie friend about the massive quantity of wild garlic growing nearby; something I’ve never actually picked and eaten, although I’ve smelled its distinctive aroma in the woods many a time. I’ve been reading other blog entries recently about how wonderful this locally abundant allium is (and how short the season is) so I decided to hunt some down before it was too late. Confronted by a meadow rammed with ramsons, I picked a generous handful of the deep green leaves before heading home, hungry and full of ideas for the kitchen. A quick search online threw up some more information about this short-lived delight, including that it’s beloved of bears and boar. So, that’s a natural pairing for the porcine and the pungent then…

Washing the wild garlic leaves

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to visit South Manchester’s rather brilliant co-operative grocery, Unicorn. I’ve been a fan of this organic, veggie oasis of calm for over a decade, but since moving from Manchester into rolling hills of the Pennines it’s become a rarer treat to stock up on great fresh organic veg (and their roasted red pepper houmous… bliss). One whimsical purchase from my Unicorn trip were some delightfully globular Jerusalem artichokes. Normally they’re frustratingly knobbly lil’ buggers, but I love their taste so these caught my eye for their potential peelability. However they’d been languishing in the veg rack ever since, and were needing some urgent love and attention. Cue a calling for fluffy mash with a little bit of extra…

The boar flesh was tightly grained and much darker than I’d expect for the same cut from pork, so I anticipated some good flavour. Rather than overwhelming it with the strong mustardy marinade I’d originally contemplated, I simply brushed it with some extra virgin olive oil and a dash of tamari soy with a dusting of cracked black pepper, and let it sit for an hour. While I heated a pan to dry fry it I also got some cubed, peeled spuds boiling, and in a separate pan added the Jerusalem artichoke a few minutes later. Years ago I discovered that potato ricers are fine for potato, but not suited to Jerusalem artichoke or celeriac, and all tuberous treats seem to cook at different speeds. Once both are cooked and mashed or bashed they combine well, but don’t do it at the start or it’ll be lumptastic.

Boar steak

I sealed the meat at a high temperature then dropped the heat down and cooked it for around 8-10 minutes, making sure it was cooked through. Then while I let the meat rest on a warm plate I splashed a small amount of water into the bottom of the pan to deglaze all that caramelised goodness away, and threw the wild garlic leaves in for a few seconds to wilt. Then onto a plate and into me. The mash was wonderful with depth and slight nuttiness, the meat was really good: tender, flavoursome and succulent, but the ramson was the real revelation. Like a light chivey garlicky steamed spinach, a clear flavour without being overwhelming, I’ll be eating this as often as possible in the next week or two while it’s still in season.

4 replies
  1. miss_south
    miss_south says:

    This sounds amazing. I’ve only really had boar in sausages or stew, so I’d love to see what the texture of the steak is like in comparison…

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