The Passion of the Boar (page 2 of 2) Home
We roasted a whole boar on woodfire at Hattonchâtel castle in France for a memorable medieval banquet. See how it's done, from start to finish. Not for the faint of heart!
On the Saturday, as I drove back to the castle after my visit at Dutriez, the jam maker, I saw the castle sit on his hilltop with the whole village in tow like a giant stone caterpillar. In the plain, Mirabelle orchards and cows
pasturing quietly. These cows produce the milk that makes most of France Brie de Meaux.
While the guests roamed across the castle's grounds and salon (360° interactive panorama of the salon), Hubert Cremel set out to roast the boar outside the castle.
Hubert is an expert in the art of the méchoui, the North African whole roasted lamb. He used the same gear to erect a vertical wood wire in a metal grate box, and placed the unmarinated skinned boar on a giant spit of his own invention. The boar hangs above a tray that collects the dripping fat while the spit rotates to cook it evenly.
I ask him whether he needs to lard or bard him before roasting. Absolutely not, he answers, this boar is very young, 14 months or so, and has been fed regularly, so his meat is not dry like an old wild boar. All I do is baste him with a mixture of oil, water and spices. You'll see for yourself. I ask Hubert what he thinks of my ember-roasted tubers, and he says Yes they should work fine. I've know about roasting vegetables in ashes for 50 years, we all started doing it when we came back from Algeria.
From time to time, Hubert moves the two sheets of ondulated metal he brought to shield his fire from the wind. Seeing the boar in such capabable hand, I move up to my room to rest for a while before dinner.
When I look out from my room's windows, I saw a huge cliff spread in the woods below my feet. The room was very atmospheric - you can see my interactive 360° panorama of the tower room at Hattonchâtel.
As I come down for the banquet, I see that they moved it back in front of the giant fireplace, with the long banquet table stretching in the Hogwarth-sized hall. People are waiting, almost 40 now around the huge table.
Hubert expertly carves the boar in very thin slices. I look amazed at the beautiful brown crust on the meat. It actually looks much better than I expected.
There was a long debate as to how the food ought to be served. Too many guests for people to be served à la russe, and a buffet might offend les huiles de la Meuse, so we settled on service
à la française, with Guy bringing trays of roasted boar and vegetables on the table. I leave the master hunter and boar roaster confer somberly near the fireplace and move to finally enjoy the results of our work.
The big enchiladas are all sitting near the boar, but I go and sit at the other end of the long table with the hoi polloi. I had planned to tell the local politicians that I found the solution to end unemployment in the Meuse by having every jobless person make quill-seeded red currant jam, but then, setting my eyes on a huge try of roasted boar, a call of nature stopped my thoughts and my reptilian brain took over. I helped myself to a heap of wild boar meat.
I expected the boar to be dry as a wooden beam and to taste like a grouse. How could it be otherwise, such a lean beast, roasted for hours? But no, what an unexpected surprise, the flesh was rosy, juicy and covered with a delicious brown crust. Incredible. I had to go back four times for more. Well done, Hubert!
Although I designed the banquet so that I could shoot my articles, I took no part in the preparation of this amazing roasted boar. My thanks for this dish go to Caroline, FX and Hubert Cremel who have done an outstanding job. I think this will be first of many roasted boars at Hattonchâtel.
They can roast a wild boar for you too if you rent the castle out for an event - just contact them.
French Blanc-Manger ***
This extraordinary French sweet almond jelly must be the best food that survived the Middle Ages. My final and most tasty dish in the Hattonchatel castle serie.
Ramadan Kebabs in Istanbul **
A reader invited me in a neighborhood kebab house in Istanbul for the
first night of Ramadan. After a short introduction, 50 pictures to take
you through the whole meal from preparation to finish. Don't miss this!
Chicken for Dessert **
One of the greatest desserts in Turkey is made with chicken breasts. It is based on an almond-and-chicken pudding once hugely popular in medieval Europe. See how it's made!
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«Without the fine work of Mr. FX, some of us would die without ever having seen a <br />senescent castle dog barking at a gutted corpse of wild boar that dangles <br />head-down from the stone wall, blood dropping among windstrewn flower petals and <br />dust.» After Cheese Comes Nothing 15/10/2008
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If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!