Ragout of Wild Boar
4-to-5-pound shoulder of wild boar, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup red-wine vinegar
1/2-pound slab smoked bacon, cut into 5 or 6 slices
10 to 12 medium onions, peeled and cut into small to medium dice
6 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup flour
1 quart beef or game stock
1 cup plum tomato, put through a food mill
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup Hungarian paprika
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
3 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons dried marjoram
Peppered crème fraîche:
1 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon cracked peppercorns
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the cubed boar with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan; when the pan is hot, add the boar and brown well until caramelized. (This should be done in batches, using one tablespoon of the oil for each batch.) Deglaze the pan between each batch with some of the red-wine vinegar, reserving the liquid after each deglazing. Cook the bacon in the sauté pan until the fat is rendered. Add the onions and brown until they begin to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook until the entire mixture has caramelized. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, add the reserved vinegar and any remaining vinegar, mixing well and loosening any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Add the bacon mixture to a heavy casserole, along with the stock, tomato, tomato paste, paprika, and seared boar. Tie the sachet herbs in a piece of cheesecloth and add to the casserole. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cover the casserole. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours, stirring once or twice. The liquid should simmer very gently to avoid drying out -- if it boils, reduce the oven temperature.
Remove the sachet and the slices of bacon, if desired, at the end of the cooking time. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and additional vinegar. Whip the crème fraîche in a bowl until soft peaks form and stir in the cracked peppercorns; serve a dollop with the ragout.
Suggested accompaniments: buttered egg noodles, sautéed spaetzle, Brussels sprouts.