Leg of Wild Boar

If you live in the South, you know a hunter, and sooner or later you’re likely to find yourself with game in your kitchen.

Deer, duck, and dove are among the most typical, but the possibilities are only limited by state legislatures, and I have it on good authority–actually a stentorian chorus therof–that Mississippi’s version of this august body politic is subject to circumvention.

Because feral hogs have become very much a nuisance in Mississippi, I’m also given to understand that hunting the beasts is encouraged; the only red tape involved is permit fees. (“Cross my palm with silver.”) Pig season stretches from October to May, but that, too, is (again, from what I understand) loosely enforced.

So be advised: given a likely glut of hog carcasses, it’s a good bet that if you show the slightest interest in wild pork to anyone with a good gun, you’re liable to end up with a haunch of wild hog even if you don’t remember saying you wanted one at that kegger in Pelahatchie.

And, yes, I have a copy of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on DVD, and yes, I know words to several Donna Summer songs, and during my salad days, I even once had a pair of Daisy Dukes (don’t say it). But unless you wear gear to bed, I am not what you would call delicate, much less fastidious, so when my buddy Raymond, a sure shot, showed up at my door with this huge haunch of meat dripping blood in his hands, I gratefully accepted it and sent him on his way with a jar of pear preserves and his promise that he’d be back the next day after work to take some of the cooked meat home.

Back in my college days I studied medieval literature, and the accounts of their gargantuan feasts, where great gobbets of meats were served and consumed with vast goblets of wine made a great impression, so the sight of this shoulder of boar sent a vicarious thrill through my little want-a-Garter mind. I longed to have an open hearth with a blazing fire and a turnspit dog to cook the meat evenly.

Alas and alack, I had no such fire, not even a place to build one in the yard, and besides, my snooty neighbors would look askance on me roasting meat on anything less than a designer grill, which left me with my trusty little gas oven (c. 1964).

First I washed the shoulder, which thankfully had been skinned but still had a generous sprinkling of stiff, short black hairs. I knew this wild meat had to be marinated, and for a long time, so I dragged a cooler out and there I placed the leg, which I’d salted ever-so-lightly, while I made the marinade. Not being one to waste wine, I chose to use a big can of pineapple juice and apple vinegar (4:1) with about a half-dozen freshly-squeezed oranges, two tablespoons pickling spices, several branches of fresh rosemary and threw in a Zatarain’s sack out of sheer habit.

I let this simmer for a while on the stove, then poured it on the meat, added enough water to cover, closed the lid and placed the cooler in a corner. After the leg had marinated for about 12 hours, I drained it, stabbed it in the meaty parts with a short, sharp knife and stuffed sliced cloves of garlic into the cuts. I then brushed it with a light oil (NOT olive oil), and dusted it with a mixture of salt and pepper (50/50). It went into the oven about 8 a.m. on a rack at 400 for about an hour, then I reduced the heat to about 300, and there it cooked for the rest of the day.

I took it out around 4 to cool, and when Raymond came by around 5:30, we carved it up, Raymond taking most of it as well as the bones for his dog Terry, who is a friend of mine as well. The meat was quite good, not gamey at all, and just as tender as it could be.

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