This rich and hearty wild boar ragu recipe comes from Tuscany. However, wild boar ragu with pasta is popular in a number of other Italian regions too, including where I live in Veneto. In fact, we often see wild boar near our house! But, of course, we don’t hunt them!
Pappardelle con ragu di cinghiale alla toscana.
To many people, wild boar ragu sounds rather exotic and luxurious! But, actually, wild boar has been hunted and eaten by humans for thousands of years. In fact, it is used in traditional recipes in many parts of the world.
Here in Italy, wild boar are hunted and farmed throughout the country. The meat is used to make salami and sausages and cooked in various ways, although mostly braised or stewed. One of the most well-known wild boar dishes is this pappardelle with wild boar ragu, which comes from Tuscany There, it is often thought of as ‘the’ regional dish!
Wild boar in Tuscany.
Wild boar are widespread in Tuscany. I have read that there are around 150,000 wild boar in the region. Many of these animals can be found in the Maremma area, a beautiful unspoiled part of Southern Tuscany, which is home to a large national park of the same name.
Hunting wild boar is a tradition and a passion in Tuscany and there are many Tuscan specialities made with wild boar. The region hosts about 10 annual wild boar festivals in different towns and villages, where visitors can taste some of these foods.
Wild boar is a very healthy meat!
Whether farmed or hunted, wild boar is a very healthy meat. It is lower in calories, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than normal pork. It’s also higher in protein than pork, beef, lamb and chicken. When farmed, the animals are kept in a free-range environment and aren’t given any antibiotics or growth hormones. This is true not only in Italy, but also the US.
Apart from being a healthier meat option, wild boar is also very tasty. It falls somewhere between pork and venison. Although, the older the animal, the stronger the flavour. Older animals also have tougher meat. Here in Italy, the meat for wild boar ragu is traditionally marinated in red wine to not only tenderize it, but also to add flavour! This is what I did for this Tuscan wild boar ragu recipe and the meat was melt in your mouth soft!
Marinating the wild boar meat makes it tender.
As I mentioned above, wild boar meat has to be marinated in red wine with herbs and vegetables for 12 hours before cooking. I used a Chianti, of course! Some people leave it for 24 hours! So, you will need to take that into account when planning to prepare this dish. However, apart from the marinating and cooking time, Tuscan wild boar ragu is pretty easy to make. Cooking times can vary depending on the meat.
I found recipes with widely different recommended cooking times (from one hour to 4 hours!). So, I suggest it’s best to be prepared to cook as long as necessary for the meat to be tender rather than just to follow the stated cooking times. As I said before, the older the animal the tougher the meat. So, meat from a young animal will require less cooking time than that of an older boar. Mine took about 2 hours.
Other ingredients for your wild boar ragu.
The other ingredients are similar to those in other ragu recipes; onion, carrot, celery, peeled tomatoes and herbs such as rosemary and bay leaves, as well as juniper berries. Some recipes call for sage instead of rosemary, or both. I didn’t use sage. Some recipes suggest using the marinating veggies in the sauce. But, I peeled and chopped fresh ones as I didn’t like the idea of using the wine soaked ones.
Wow your guests with wild boar ragu!
Nowadays wild boar meat is quite widely available and can even be bought online. Here, I can buy it frozen all year round already cut into chunks. Needless to say, wild boar is more expensive than pork. But, now and again, I think it’s great to try new foods and this is very much a special occasion dish, even in Italy. It’s sure to give your meal a wow factor and impress your guests. It would be perfect for a holiday meal at Christmas or New Year.
The pasta for wild boar ragu.
Wild boar ragu is nearly always served with pappardelle, or sometimes tagliatelle. I used dried pappardelle that I got earlier this year on a visit to Campofilone in Le Marche region. Campofilone is famous for its fine egg pasta called maccheroncini di Campofilone. However, many of the pasta makers there also make other types of egg pasta. This pappardelle came from a company called Pasta Marilungo.
If you don’t have pappardelle or tagliatelle, you can use different pasta! You can also serve this Tuscan wild boar ragu with polenta or mashed potatoes. Both are yummy, although I prefer with pasta, of course!
If you do try this Tuscan wild boar ragu recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please, write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback means a lot to me!
Other recipes from Tuscany on The Pasta Project.
Tuscan wild boar ragu with pappardelle pasta
- 500 g wild boar (1.1lbs) you can also use pork
- 400 g pappardelle pasta (14oz)
- 1 onion peeled and halved
- 1 carrot washed and cut into large pieces
- 1 celery stalk washed and cut into large pieces
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp juniper berries
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 lt red wine (4-5 cups)
- ground black pepper
For the sauce
- 500 g tomato passata or peeled tomatoes (1.1lbs)
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1 carrot washed and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk washed and finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 glass red wine
- salt for pasta and to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Wash the wild boar meat, cut it into chunks and put it in a large bowl.
- Add the onion (peeled and cut in half) and the carrot and the celery in large pieces, the 2 peeled cloves of garlic, the bay leaves, the juniper berries, the rosemary and some black pepper.
- Cover with red wine and mix.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap or a lid and allow to stand in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
- Once the necessary time has passed, drain the meat and eliminate the vegetables and herbs. You can cut the meat into smaller pieces if preferred.
Make the ragu
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet and fry the garlic, carrot, celery and onion slightly Add the bay leaves
- Add the wild boar meat and brown it on all sides.
- Add the red wine and let the alcohol evaporate.
- Lower the flame and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato pulp/ peeled tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook with the flame reduced to a minimum for about 1.5-2 hours (depending on the size of the pieces of wild boar and how old it is). Stir occasionally and add some beef stock or water if the sauce seems dry.
- While the ragu is cooking put a pot of water onto boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. When you are ready to serve your wild boar ragu, cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Once ready, save a cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
- If you are reheating the ragu and it seems dry add some of the pasta cooking water. Remove the bay leaves and garlic cloves and add the pasta to the ragu and mix together carefully. You don’t want to break the pasta ribbons.
- Serve immediately. (Italians don’t normally add grated cheese to this dish or chopped parsley)
This recipe was originally published in 2018. It has been updated with new photos and text.
Wonderful. With one small ambiguity… I’ve made it twice. Couldn’t get the right cuts of boar but made it once with heritage pork, once with pork not so designated; fabulous results. But it’s not clear to me what to do with the wine left over from the marinade. Unthinking I added it as the wine referred to in step 3 of “make the ragu” the first time I cooked it; but, perhaps you meant the glass of wine? The result was fantastic (perhaps because ok, I admit, I used a bit more meat than the recipe called for). The second time, more wittingly, I still added the marinade wine. Works really well, boils down to something so richly flavoured and good. But I’m guessing your intention actually was to have us discard the marinade wine? You say discard the vegetables but not the wine… anyway, Thanks for a great cooking experience.
I was wondering if I can cook this with the shoulder bone in,or should I cut the meat off? Thanks, I can’t wait to cook this. I still dream of the wild boar Ragu I ate in Assisi
Hi Rory, thanks for your comment. I’ve never made wild boar ragu with bone in shoulder. I usually use ready cut boar shoulder or leg chunks. I’ve also never seen recipes for it with meat on the bone. I would suggest you remove the meat from the bone and while its marinating use the bone to make a stock/broth which you can add to the sauce!
Wild boar ragu is one of my favorite meals when in Italy. I have just found a source here in the U.S. and I can’t wait to prepare this recipe! Curious – what cut of meat do you recommend? I didn’t see it mentioned in the post ( or I missed it ?)
Thanks for such a lovely post.
ah! I just found the answer in the comments. Thanks!
Hi Heather thanks for your comment. Funnily enough, nearly all recipes for wild boar, just say wild boar meat!! Plus the meat I use comes ready cut in chunks. But after a bit of searching it seems the best cut is leg or shoulder meat. I guess similar to stewing lamb or venison. I hope this helps and I’ll add the info to the recipe. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy this wild boar ragu!
Can I use a boneless chop of boar instead of stew? will it be fatty enough to hold up to the slow cook you think?
Hi, Alanna thanks for your comment. To be honest I’m not sure if boneless chop works in this recipe as wild boar chops don’t usually require slow cooking. I have never tried boar chops for ragu. The meat for that is usually leg or shoulder. However, I have seen many recipes for braised pork chops that require about an hour of cooking so it’s possible the boar chop can be braised. If you use it, don’t cut the meat too small and check it after 45 minutes to an hour max.
Nancy Johnson says
Great recipe Jacqui!
Dave Puffett says
We own a farmhouse in Tuscany and always get our favourite Wild Boar Ragu when we visit from the UK!
This recipe is best we have found, we have a local farm shop that sells 500gm packs of wild boar so we can now recreate this wonderful dish! Bella Grazie!!
Thanks for your comment Dave. I’m happy to hear you like this wild boar ragu recipe! I’ve also had it in Tuscany! So very good!
JEREMY BECKER says
I am only able to get ground wild boar. I would like to sear it first, but I have a couple of questions. One,since it is already ground, does it still need to be tenderized? Two, I know you used Chianti in your recipe, but will any wine work? The reason I ask is because I have some bottles of sweet sherry lying around and some Malbec as well and I was thinking of using those unless it would ruin the dish. Thank you in advance.
Hi Jeremy, thanks for your comment. If you’re using ground boar meat I don’t think you need to tenderize it. Just sear/brown it first as you intend. Re the wine I wouldn’t use sweet sherry but Malbec is fine. I have never made wild boar ragu with ground wild boar, so I’d love to know how it turns out. I hope you will tell me!
Thank you, I had the same question myself about ground boar meet. All I can get and afford in my area. This recipe sounds delish! Thank you for explaining things so clearly. Most appreciated.
I would suggest searing the boar before, removing it , then add the vegetables so you can get a good color on the meat and leave something in the pan to deglaze with the wine.
Billy Farah says
Hey Jaqui I’ve got a story for you and you’ll see why I appreciate you putting the time into your posting of the info and recipe.
When my wife and I got married we planned a small dinner for our immediate family at a local Italian restaurant. The one dish I insisted on serving was pappardelle with a wild boar ragu. For weeks leading up to the dinner I asked the owner if he needed help sourcing the boar. He insisted that everything was fine and we’re good to go. When we showed up and sat everyone down he told me that he couldn’t get the boar! I was beyond disappointed.
Fast Forward 6 years to today. 1 week ago I went hunting and got my first wild board. I brought back over 40lbs of meat. The first thing my wife and I agreed on was to make the dream dish we missed out on 6 years ago. We make our own pasta and now have our own 100% natural wild boar. We also have veggies from our garden to use in the dish. Thank you for posting this recipe and the story/history. This will be something very special for us.
Since we have so much boar to choose from what cut of meat is best for this?
Hi Billy thanks for your message and story! What a pity that you didn’t get to have wild boar ragu for your wedding dinner! But, how amazing that you have a whole boar. So many things you can do with that! I wish I could come for dinner, homemade pasta and homegrown veggies, yum! Re meat for the ragu, it’s interesting that most recipes call for wild boar pieces, meat or chunks without stating which cut! I confess I buy mine in ready to use chunks. Not sure what cut they are. But in your position I would go for the leg meat. My hubby says the ‘coscia’, which is basically the thigh! You might also think about making wild boar sausages and some ground meat. Lots of Italians make the ragu with ground boar meat instead of chunks! Do let me know how it turns out!
Kim Quinn says
Can I stretch my wild boar a bit by adding thick sliced portobello mushrooms? I would like to make it for 8 people adding it its a bit expensive. We have its at a meat store not far from me in Massachusetts. ..Yay! I’ve read mushrooms take on the flavor of what you cook them with and I love their earthy flavor. Would it hurt the recipe? Shopping tomorrow!
Kim Quinn says
Sorry, meant ‘and it is a bit expensive’. Would the mushrooms help me get away with a pound +. If I could swing the price of 2 pounds.
Hi Kim, I think adding portobello mushrooms would work well to help stretch the recipe out for 8 people. However, don’t marinate them with the wild boar. Mushrooms absorb liquid easily and they’ll get mushy. Better if they are still ‘meaty’! Do let me know how it turns out!