A Texas road trip gave Cai Ap Bryn a taste for authentic American barbecue food, and the idea for this leaner, richer take on pulled pork. Makes about 10-12 sandwiches.
Over the past few years, pulled pork has been massively on-trend. Some food outlets do it better than others, of course, but the whole American barbecue idea really became fashionable here in the past 10 years or so. As a nation, we have evolved to love spicy, sweet and salty foods. You can’t deny that, though quite rich, it is addictive. And I am a big fan of a good, old-fashioned barbecue.
Back in 2011, I went over to Texas with some friends for a road trip, as well as the occasional American football game and rodeo. One of our highlights was to visit as many authentic barbecue joints as we could… and we went to a lot.
By the end, I had a good idea of what made a good barbecue and what made a bad one. One thing I discovered was a love for pulled pork. I like my pulled pork with a little sauce and not too dry, a little bit spicy and tangy, but not too hot. I came home and decided to see how I could make a decent pulled pork using an oven at home. Now, we are not working with pork here, we are working with wild boar. It is leaner and richer, and requires a little bit more attention as it is more prone to drying out.
My method of cooking a boar shoulder at home is designed to retain as much moisture as possible. This home method is not a barbecue recipe, so it should be accessible to anyone with an oven.
If you struggle to get shoulder, you can also use the neck. The idea with using the neck or the shoulder is that they are broken up with lots of individual muscles that are all covered with sinews. These break down and keep the meat juicy during a long and slow cook.
As with venison, I always dice and slow cook the front half (neck and shoulders), but steak and mince the haunches. I find steak mince from the haunches is better for burgers and lean mince.
Recipe for pulled wild boar
- 1 large white onion, CHOPPED
- 5 garlic cloves, CHOPPED
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 200ml cider vinegar
- 1½ Tbsp dijon mustard
- 250g tomato purée
- 1 tbsp chopped jalapeño
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2kg boneless BOAR shoulder joint (Butt)
- In a deep pan, sauté the chopped onion and garlic in the oil until they become soft.
- Add the smoked paprika to the pan and stir for a minute.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for five minutes.
- Using a food mixer or hand blender, blitz the ingredients to a smooth sauce. A splash of water may need to be added at this point.
- Place the boar shoulder in an oven dish and coat it with the sauce. Make sure that the meat is fully covered.
- Place a lid or foil over the dish and put it into the oven at 150°C. This will need to be in the oven for about four- and-a-half to five hours. I would recommend that the shoulder is turned over halfway through the cooking process. If a lot of the moisture has evaporated, a dash of water may need to be added.
- At the end of the cooking time, let the meat rest for 15 minutes before attempting to pull it apart.
- Using two forks, gently pull apart the shoulder and mix the meat in with the marinade.
- Serve in a bun or bread. I like to serve mine with coleslaw and a bit of cheese — a nice, mild cheddar works well or even a gouda. If you are struggling to obtain a boar shoulder, try Hanks’ Meat & Game, a good supplier of real wild boar from the Forest of Dean with a next-day delivery service.