Apple Cider Braised Wild Boar Shanks

Executive chef Eddie Lee Bryant of Town Point Club in Norfolk, Va., braises wild boar slowly on the bone with hard apple cider, then serves it up with a sweet spin on everyday mashed potatoes.

6 wild boar hind shanks, about 5 pounds total

1 pinch kosher salt

1 pinch black pepper

2 teaspoons dry hot cocoa mix

2 tablespoons (for dredging) plus 1/2 cup flour

2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil

2 carrots, sliced on the bias

3 celery stalks, sliced on the bias

1 medium yellow onion, large dice

1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1 bottle hard apple cider, 12 ounces

1 ounce Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces beef stock

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet browning and seasoning sauce

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 ounce butter, softened

Sweet Potato Apple Mash (recipe follows)

Gremolata (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub each shank with salt, pepper, and cocoa, and then dredge in 2 tablespoons of flour. Add oil to a large Dutch oven pan or cast-iron skillet and heat on medium-high. Add the shanks and sear on all sides until browned. Remove the shanks and set aside.

To the hot pan, add carrots, celery, and onions, stirring carefully to avoid burning, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for another minute, and then deglaze the pan on high with apple cider, Worcestershire, and beef stock. Stir well, scraping the bottom to incorporate all ingredients. Add tomato paste, Kitchen Bouquet, bay leaves, and thyme, stirring until smooth. Return the seared shanks to the pan and spoon the sauce over them. Cover and cook the shanks in the oven for about 2-1/2 hours until tender but not falling off the bone. Remove the pan from the oven and discard bay leaves.

Remove each shank carefully to a platter, keeping the meat intact on the bone. Keep warm. Spoon out the vegetables into a bowl and set aside. To the cooking pan, add 1/2 cup flour and butter to thicken the sauce, stirring on medium-low heat.

To serve, “paint” a spoonful of the Sweet Potato Apple Mash across each plate. Spoon on the cooked vegetables and place the shank — with the bone pointing up — over the mash. Crown the shanks with pan gravy and sprinkle each with Gremolata.

Yield: 6 servings

SWEET POTATO APPLE MASH

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 pinch nutmeg

1 pinch cinnamon

1 pinch kosher salt

1 pinch black pepper

2 apples, any variety, peeled and diced

1/4 cup whole milk

Place the sweet potatoes in a saucepan and fill the pan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside to cool slightly.

In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the seasonings and diced apple. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until the apples are tender. In a large bowl, combine the apple mixture with the drained potatoes and the milk. Mix well with an electric mixer or mash with a fork until combined. Season to taste.

GREMOLATA

2 lemons, zest only

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until use.

Tracking Boar

“You can find wild boar shanks with other wild game in the freezer section at specialty supermarkets. You can also place a special order at a high-end butcher or order online from many wild game sources.” — Executive chef Eddie Lee Bryant, Town Point Club, Norfolk, Va.

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