Boar Sauce

Ragù di Cinghiale

This boar ragù is verging on a Tuscan classic, except it would usually have rosemary and thyme in place of the ground spices. These are perhaps a more northerly influence, and make for a headily aromatic sauce. If you can’t get wild boar, pork shoulder is an acceptable substitute – but you may want to add a little finely chopped prosciutto or salami for gaminess.


    Boar Ragù

  • 500 g wild boar meat (shoulder)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • ½ carrot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 10 sage leaves, shredded
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon (a pinch) each of: ground nutmeg and cloves
  • 500 g tinned chopped tomatoes, or puréed fresh tomatoes
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 250 ml milk
  • grated Parmesan, to serve


Finely chop the meat* (a very fine 3mm dice is great, and a food processor equivalent OK). Fry the vegetables and garlic in the oil and butter over a medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the meat, herbs and spices and fry until sizzling, and the meat partly browned. Add the tomatoes, wine and milk, season with salt and pepper and simmer very gently for 2 hours, or until very thick indeed, the liquor the consistency of double cream.

To make the pasta, roll the dough into sausages about 1.5cm thick, and cut these into 5cm lengths. One-by-one, roll these between the flats of your hands to make long, irregular (slightly squiggly) round noodles 3–4mm thick. Spread out on a tray sprinkled with semola until ready to cook (you can make these while the sauce is bubbling away).

Boil the pici (about 4 minutes – this depends on their thickness), drain and mix into the ragù. Cook together for a few seconds until the sauce coats, and serve with grated Parmesan.

* This ragù is also delicious with polenta. In this case, dice the meat into 2cm chunks, brown in the oil first and remove before sweating the vegetables. Then return the meat to the pan and continue as per the above recipe.