Posted Sunday 10 November 2013

I've spent the last couple of weeks picking up chestnuts in the woods whilst out walking Bella my Border Terrier. I find it hard to resist picking up these shiny nuts from their prickly cases particularly as they are free and in abundance this year. 

For roasted chestnuts:

Simply roast the chestnuts in a hot oven, making sure you make a little slit in each one before placing in the oven. A little tip, leave one without a slit and when it explodes in the oven you know they are ready to eat. 

I've frozen a bagful ready for popping into a slow braised casserole or into a dessert over Christmas. When the chestnuts are fresh you can easily peel off the shell. Pop into a bowl, cover with hot water and leave for 5 minutes before scrubbing clean and placing in a freezer bag. 

                                                                    Chestnuts on woodland floor


To follow the wild boar ragu in my last post for dessert Becky suggested a chestnut and chocolate tart. I was sceptical to begin with but it turned out to be very special indeed. Its sweet but without being sickly and has a lovely firm texture and nutty flavour. I served it with whipped cream and I think everyone had seconds. 

                                                                    Chocolate and chestnut tart

If you would like to make this tart follow the link below to the recipe on my website:

Wild Boar Ragu

Posted Tuesday 5 November 2013

Last year my wife, Becky, and I took a Chianti wine tour while on our honeymoon and we had the most amazing wild boar ragu for lunch at the vineyard while gazing over the Tuscan countryside.

I've been wanting to give it a try ever since and having the in-laws over for Sunday dinner last weekend seemed like a good opportunity to do something a bit special. I also happened to have a shoulder of wild boar in the freezer left over from a photo shoot, which was convenient!

The result was rich and succulent with a fantastic depth of flavour. Served with posh pasta it was a real treat.

                                                                Wild Boar Ragu

If you'd like to make it yourself (and I highly recommend you do as it is absolutely delicious) here's the recipe: 

2 kilos of wild boar shoulder cut into large chunks 

For the marinade: 

500ml red wine 

200ml sherry vinegar 

3 garlic cloves crushed 

2 rosemary springs 

a little fresh thyme 

10 juniper berries, crushed 

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover with cling film and leave to marinade for 24 hours. Once marinaded, strain the meat into a colander discarding the liquid. 

For the ragu:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

200g pancetta or smoked bacon, cut into lardons

1 large onion,finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped  

30g pocinni mushrooms, soaked in 200ml hot water 

200ml red wine 

tin of chopped Italian tomatoes 

200ml vegetable stock (I like to use Marigold stock powder) 

a squeeze of tomato puree 

a little salt & pepper 

Fry the wild boar in small batches in a little olive oil until nicely browned all over. Whilst browning the wild boar, take a large, lidded casserole dish gently fry the pancetta in a little olive oil until it starts to brown, then add the onion and continue cooking until the onion has softened but not browned. Add the wild boar to the pan along with the red wine, vegetable stock and the juices from soaking the mushrooms. Roughly chop the soaked mushrooms and add to the pan. Bring to a simmer, add a little salt & pepper, maybe a sprig of rosemary and the tomato puree. Pop the lid on and place in a pre-heated oven at 150 C/Gas mark 2 for 2 1/2 -3 hours. When ready break the meat up using a potato masher gently breaking the chunks up into smaller pieces but keeping a reasonably thick consistency. Add more seasoning if necessary and serve with your favourite pasta and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

This recipe will also work using pork, beef and lamb.    

Rob's Writings