I first tasted a version of this dish during a magical trip to attend a cooking school in Tuscany (thanks, Mom!) 16 years ago. That trip marked the beginning of the enduring food-intensive phase of my life and opened my heart and hands to so many wonderful culinary discoveries. This dish was part of a meal we enjoyed in a small, ancient restaurant’s wine cellar. After just one bite, I knew I would have to recreate this unforgettable pasta. The menu called it Pappardelle al Ragu di Cinghiale – Pasta with Wild Boar Sauce. While the boar certainly imparts a unique flavour, my version uses pork tenderloin because it’s a lot easier to find in North America (but if you can get your hands on some wild boar – do it!) Homemade pasta – fettuccine or wider, depending on your cutter – is always fun to make and serve; if you have not the time or interest, just buy the best fresh pasta you can find. Serve this up with a robust Italian red and lots of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (left whole)
- 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped fine
- 1 – 2 whole dried chili peppers (depending upon how spicy you like your food)
- 4 whole cloves plus ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 6 ounces (170 grams) wild boar loin (or pork tenderloin)
- ¾ cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 4 servings fettuccine (about 1 to 1.25 pounds / 450 – 550 grams of fresh pasta)
- With a sharp knife, slice and chop the meat very finely until it resembles the texture of freshly ground meat.
- In a medium pot, heat the oil and then sauté the garlic, rosemary, chili and cloves over medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped meat to the oil along with a few grinds each of salt and pepper.
- Just as the garlic is about to brown, add the wine and allow to evaporate for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste & water; cook over low heat, covered, for 90 minutes, until meat is tender and flavours are thoroughly blended.
- Remove the lid and let the sauce simmer, reduce and thicken for 30 minutes longer.
- When sauce is finished, remove garlic, cloves & chili from sauce and keep warm over low heat.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until just tender (al dente).
- To serve, pour sauce over hot cooked, drained pasta in a warmed, large bowl and stir to blend.
- Pass freshly grated parmesan at the table.
Makes 4 servings. Leftovers are sublime. Sauce freezes very well.