I did not have any cinghiale al mirto in Sardinia, but I did bring home dried myrtle berries. In Sardinia they may also use the greens and fresh berries, but those are hard (if not impossible) to come by here in the Netherlands. Myrtle berries are used to make a liqueur called mirto (recipe coming up once my batch is finished) and they are also used for stews and roasts. To make it even more Sardinian, I decided to cook the wild boar with myrtle berries as well as Cannonau di Sardegna, the island’s most famous red wine (the grape variety is known as grenache noir in France or garnacha in Spain). The neck of wild boar cooked sous-vide in this sauce and then served with it, was absolutely delicious. Since the myrtle berries release all their flavor into the sauce, it is best to discard those and add a fresh batch to the sauce. The recipe for the vegetable side that can be seen in the background will follow soon.
For 2 servings
about 350 grams (.75 lbs) wild board neck (shoulder would work, too)
4 Tbsp (20 grams) dried myrtle berries, divided
180 ml (3/4 cup) red wine, preferably Cannonau di Sardegna
50 grams (1/3 cup) minced carrot
50 grams (1/3 cup) minced onion
50 grams (1/3 cup) minced celery
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cornstarch
Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and brown the meat on all sides over medium-high heat.
When the meat is nicely browned, transfer it to a plate and set aside.
Add minced carrot, celery, and onion to the fat remaining in the frying pan, and season with salt.
Stir over medium heat with a wooden spatula, scraping along the bottom to include all the browned bits in the sauce, until the vegetables are golden, 5 to 10 minutes.
Deglaze with 180 ml of red wine.
Add 2 tablespoons of dried myrtle berries and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and cook until reduced by half. Then turn off the heat.
Add the juices that leaked out of the browned meat to the sauce as well. (If you still believe that browning meat will “seal in the juices”, here is your proof that it doesn’t. We only brown the meat to give it more flavor.)
Now to vacuum seal for cooking sous-vide you have three options:
- For a chamber vacuum sealer, allow meat and sauce to cool to refrigerator temperature, then vacuum seal.
- For a FoodSaver (clamp) vacuum sealer, freeze the sauce so you can vacuum seal the meat with the sauce without having the vacuum sealer suck out the sauce.
- Or use a ziplock bag and the water displacement method. You can do this without having to wait for the meat and sauce to cool down.
Cook sous-vide for 2 days (about 48 hours) at 57C/135F for a fillet texture. If you prefer flaky/well done, cook 24 hours at 74C/165F.
When you take the meat out of the sous-vide, cut the bag open and pour the sauce into a saucepan. Wrap the meat in aluminum foil to keep it warm while you finish the sauce.
If you like, replace the myrtle berries with new ones so they will have more flavor when you eat them and they will give off a great aroma. Soak the new berries in a small amount of cold water for an hour or so to soften them first.
Mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a teaspoon of cold water and add this slurry to the sauce.
Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring, until it thickens. Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Slice the meat and serve it with the sauce on preheated plates.
It goes without saying this is great with a Cannonau di Sardegna. If you can’t find it, another grenache/garnacha-based wine such as a southern Côtes-du-Rhône would work as well.
Blecs is a pasta shape from Friuli. Blecs are triangular, square or lozenge shaped fresh pasta, similar to quadrucci or maltagliati. I tasted them for the first time at Trattoria Ai Cacciatori in Friuli, where the blecs were made with nettles and served with a ragù of lamb and crunchy vegetables. This was a delicious dish, and in this post I present something very similar.