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Rach's Ragu alla Cinghiale (Wild Boar Ragu)

Rach's Ragu alla Cinghiale (Wild Boar Ragu)


  • 1 wild boar shoulder (4 to 4 1/2 lb.)


  • 1 bottle red wine (750 milliliters)

  • 3 large fresh bay leaves

  • 1 onion, quartered

  • 2 to 3 stalks celery with leafy tops, coarsely chopped

  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise

  • 1 bundle of fresh sage and rosemary, tied with kitchen string

  • 1 lemon, sliced

  • 1 tbsp. salt

  • 10 to 12 juniper berries

  • 1 to 10 black peppercorns


  • 1 quart beef bone broth

  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms

  • 3 to 4 tbsp. olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ¼ cup brandy or 1/2 cup Marsala

  • 3 tbsp. butter

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 2 medium onions, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery with leafy tops, chopped

  • 1 small bulb fennel, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • 2 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh sage

  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds or fennel pollen

  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomato paste or regular tomato paste

  • 2 cups passata (uncooked tomato puree) or tomato puree

  • 2 lb. pici or other rustic, hearty pasta

  • EVOO or butter, for tossing

  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, for serving


Step 1

Trim the connective tissue, tendons, and fat from the boar shoulder. Cube the meat into 1 1/2-inch pieces. ( You should have 3 to 3 1/4 lb. of trimmed meat.)

Step 2

In a large bowl, mix the wine, bay leaves, onion, celery, garlic, herb bundle, lemon, salt, juniper berries, and peppercorns. Put the meat in the marinade and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade. Discard the solids and reserve the liquid.

Step 3

Preheat the oven to 300°. In a large pot, simmer the broth and mushrooms over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half to one-third, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board, then chop. Reserve 2 to 2 1/2 cups of the infused stock.

Step 4

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, three to four turns of the pan, over medium-high. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches if needed (to keep from crowding the pot), cook the meat until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a platter. Add the brandy to the pot and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Reduce heat to medium. Add the butter, carrots, onions, celery, and fennel. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, 10 to 15 minutes; season. Stir in the garlic, then the chopped herbs and fennel seeds. Stir in the reserved marinade and simmer until reduced by half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms, meat, mushroom stock, tomato paste, and passata. Cover and roast in the oven (or cook on the stovetop at a low simmer) until the meat is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.Step 5

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta; reserve some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with EVOO, a splash or two of the cooking water, and most of the ragù. Top with more ragù. Serve with the cheese.