Now we are getting into the meat of the processing and will be revealing some key tricks to making it taste amazing. I’ll be combining images from two wild boar processing to show how my uncle achieves the highest quality meat that I’ve come across.
As mentioned in my last post, the blood letting is critical in the first phase but several other important factors come into play in the processing.
- The body temperature, in mid 40’s, needs to be cooled rapidly as possible after the kill. Uncle Kinuo uses continuous water flow in a bathtub during the winter months and ice baths in the summer.
- Reduce the risk of contamination from hair, burst intestines and regurgitation.
- Wrap absorbent meat paper and cover with a plastic bag to absorb excess water but protect from over drying. Change the paper at least once while curing in a fridge for 3 or 4 days.
Let’s break it down and guide you step by step with pictures.
After scraping out any fecal matter close to the anus with chop sticks, a cheap hair clipper is used to shave off excess hair where the knife will run. Around the anus, over the belly and inside the arms and legs. This opens out the visibility and increases the ease and accuracy of your cut but also reduces contamination from bacteria on the hairs.
To protect himself from ticks and various diseases they harbour, he sprays a 7 to 10% neutral detergent over the body to lift the oils and pours 80 degrees water to kill the ticks. It is swiftly followed by a good spray of running water to cool the skin immediately after.
The tail is cut with a secateur which reveals the tail bone. This becomes the guide as you slice around the anus with the utmost care. You must avoid puncturing the rectum canal at all cost.
The skin and meat above the pubic bone is sliced carefully until the bone is revealed. It’s shaped almost like a bridge between the two legs with intestinal tracts above and rectum canal below. So another careful cut requiring very accurate knife maneuver to avoid poo carnage. The smaller boar’s pubic bone can be sliced apart with a secateur but a larger boar or most deers (whose bones are much harder than boar’s) requires the use of a hatchet.
Once the hips are open, it’s possible to pull out the rectal canal and put a cable tie on to make sure no shit touches the meat. The same is done to the throat which is especially important when processing deer since they ruminate.
A straight cut is made between the throat and the pubic bone. Note the plastic spatula slid under the skin to stop the knife slicing and puncturing the intestines. There are knives specifically made for this purpose but I’m a massive fan of these small ideas that get around buying a new equipment. The chest bones are either secateured or hatchetted.
The legs are cut off and the skin around the ankles is peeled off to allow the hook to get between the Achilles heels. The rectum is pulled forward and the whole innards are peeled off gently with some nudging with a knife point.
Immediately, the boar is lowered into the adjacent bath tub where a garden hose is set inside the intestinal cavity to cool down the body temperature as fast as possible.
While the boar cools, the liver and other edible parts are extracted and the whole area is washed clean. This liver you see in uncle Kinuo’s left hand became the single best liver dish I’ve ever had. I couldn’t stop eating it and I’m not even a massive fan of livers. Apparently, boars are nothing compared to how good deer liver is. Couldn’t try it this time but I’m drooling thinking about it. Do pop back for auntie Kinta’s liver dish recipe in part 3.
Once the boar has cooled down, ropes are tied around the arms and pulled apart to increase the tension in the skin. This allows a better, cleaner and more efficient skinning process.
With a deer, it’s possible to literally peel off the skin since they’re much leaner, but with a boar it’s a slow methodical process of slicing between the skin and the fat. I’ve had a decent go on it and found that knife skills I acquired working in the fish industry is transferable here.
This particular boar was hiding behind a bush and with bad visibility, the bullet blew a large chunk of the brain and compound fractured the neck which made the decapitation slightly more challenging. We did check immediately by grilling the meat and smelling the fumes to make sure the blood letting was successful. But note the size of the knife my uncle uses. You really don’t need much.
The boar is lifted and the last bit of the skin is sliced off. Check out the pulley system that he’s made with materials gathered from a local hardware store. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no real use for boar hides but if/when I start doing this on my own, I’d like to learn to process deer hides without the use of harmful chemicals.
The boar is transferred inside and a reciprocating saw is used to cut through the back bone and to split the body in two. Note the thickness of the fat on its back. It’s so thick that some are sliced off to keep the perfect balance of meat and fat ratio but the left over fat is then made into the most incredible lard that adds magic to any dish you use it for.
The half body is then divided into three chunks – leg, belly and shoulder. They are wrapped in absorbent meat paper and placed inside carrier bags to stop over drying. Those bags are placed in a fridge for 3 or 4 days to mature. The meat paper is changed at least once during this period so that any water that sweats out of the meat is properly absorbed and discarded.
After three or four days of curing, the meat is deboned and cleaned of excess fat and tendons with Japanese precision. That’s right. The less tendons the better and it takes the pro several hours to go through a boar. The meat is formed into a suitable shape and frozen at -40 degrees, thawed partially to slice thinly on a meat slicer, packaged, labelled then frozen again ready to be dispatched.
So that concludes the processing side of wild boars. I hope there was enough information there for those interested but feel free to send me questions if any bits were unclear. I am also learning but I’ll try and answer to the best of my knowledge.
Now however amazing the meat is, it can be ruined and brutalised by shitty cooking but luckily, auntie Kinta is a phenomenal chef and she’s shared with me some of her best recipes that she’s perfected over the years. Check back for part 3 on how to cook wild boar and deer.