Monday, February 5, 2024

Wild Boar in Four Takes

Wild boar Starting Point
Braised wild boar (actually "collared peccary", but 'close enough for jazz', as Lou Reed would say), shot by my electrician's father - with night-vision goggles - and potatoes. Prepared by his mother-in-law, a gifted Brazilian chef. Tremendous.

And I took home leftovers, to wit....

Wild Boar Hash, Version #1

Dusted with Brazilian farofa (toasted manioc flour + stuff) and laden with overcooked spinach ricotta gnocchi. Very quick/sloppy dinner, but delicious.

Wild Boar Hash, Version #2

Click photo to expand for a whole other experience
Obviously, much more thoughtful. Sure enough, there's greater depth of flavor and harmony (and, yes, Chowhounds, I was subconsciously channeling larb). Yet the previous version, so fast/sloppy that it was nearly trashy, was more visceral because I'd caramelized the meat a bit. See the deep brown crunchy strands at lower left in Version #1?

Also in version #1, I pulled the meat by hand, creating brown-able frizz. This time, I formally chopped, yielding smooth surfaces - the geological term is "cleavage"...
...presenting no fractals for crunching up. Investing time, care and attention do not, in and of themselves, get it done. You also need to close eyes and visualize how you want different aspects to taste (selfish!) and reverse-engineer the pathway. Don't rotely perform cooking actions. Proceed with purpose to a desired result! Remember to also hit the bullseye!

Seasonings? Home chefs are far too smitten with herbs and spices due to lingering pretentions from the 1960s "gourmet" craze. I'm sure you've heard that master chefs traffic in robust, provocative flavors!

Horse shit. Salt and pepper are plenty delicious. Robust, provocative seasonings are usually just a checkbox to be ticked by wannabes trying to own the process by fiddling around with lots of this and that.

Deliciousness does not arise from this or that. It wafts from the contrails of myriad aggregated micro-decisions, nothing so course as reaching for smoked paprika or marjoram. We are, as a species, too stupid to finally acknowledge the obvious fact that mere recipe-following doesn't produce deliciousness. Soul can't be evoked via conscientious measurement and chopping (if it could, McDonald's would be irresistible, and we'd all feast there multiple times per week, moaning ecstatically and clutching our swollen bellies). A shake of cumin won’t slay them. 

Deliciousness is not about big gestures, which don't compensate for lack of subtlety. So leave the oregano alone (unless it's really needed), and sweat the small stuff (intention, framing, commitment, attention, immersion, and playfulness; all the stuff I keep going on about).

In fact, salt and pepper are the gourmet upgrade! Civilizations were overturned for acquisition of these precious substances. If you can't achieve deliciousness via the fancy delight of salt and pepper, you're just seeming like a chef, not really cooking (most chefs become chefs because they want to be chefs, not because they want to cook).

Wild Boar Hash, Version #3

This time I took a pre-farofa skillet shot as well as a final, and the latter requires not only "click to expand", but full-screen treatment, which, I assure you, will deliver an overwhelming sunsplash of radiant hash that will make you sell your house and quit your day job.

Finger-pulled meat? Check.

Caramelization of meaty fractals? Check.

Spice counter-contrarianism (I added some basil)? Check.

Plus: carrot chunks. Checkmate.

Also, this time I took more care with my farofa sprinkling. Also, I’d toasted it a bit in a dry skillet, to ensure it wasn't damp. Just wake it up a little.

Not as photogenic as last time, which makes sense. Last time I proceeded "by the book", primly chopping the meat with a nice sharp knife. The result was composed and tidy, which is what you want in this Instagram era, but "composed and tidy" is not what you want from hash, so, if deliciousness still matters, this version had it beat by miles. But you'll only get that if you full-screen that second photo. I'm just sayin'...

Previous hash postings

A Trilogy of Wild Boar Hashes (Yup, deja frickin' vu. The trick to cooking is iteration. Sisyphus is a cook's best role model).
Pork Rib Hash
Corned Beef Hash as The Exemplar of Hope
Boston and Worcester: Lost Love Returns
Chunky Central American-Korean Breakfast Hash
Breakfast Hash

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