Many restaurant menus and grocery stores are starting to offer boar amongst their offerings. But what is boar and how does it differ from the pork we’re used to from pigs? Strictly speaking, the difference between pig and boar is only a few thousand years. The domestic pig that we’re used to today - the source of bacon, pork belly, tenderloin and all those other porky delights we know and love – is actually the end product of the domestication of the wild boar.
Around 8,000 years ago, people in the Near East domesticated their native wild boar, which they then brought to Europe. These domestic boars bred with Europe’s own wild boar, eventually resulting in the domestic pig we’re familiar with today. Since then, pork has been an important part of our British cuisine, with boar falling by the way side. In fact, in an unfortunate turn of events, wild boar were actually extinct in Britain for several hundred years and have only recently reappeared in the wild and, thankfully, on our plates.
Both pig and boar are used by great British chefs across the counties, but not interchangeably. The two creatures differ in both appearance and taste and each require their own unique considerations when being cooked.
To look at, the pig has a large head, short snout and pink skin while the boar has shorter legs and a stiffer, more bristly fur. Boar also stands larger at the shoulder and has a straight tail. The meat of boar has subtle differences from that of pork – it’s leaner, with very little fat, and also denser and darker than pork.
B is as versatile as pork but should be treated slightly differently, more like venison. Boar is best cooked slowly, and takes especially well to recipes like stews. Good examples from great British chefs can be found in recipes like James Martin’s wild boar pie and Antonio Carluccio’s wild boar ragout.
If you’re curious to try wild boar, you can always start with your favourite pork recipe but use wild boar in place of the pork. Cook the meat longer and slower than you would pork, and the result should be a wild boar dish that is meltingly moist and delicious.