Wolves and wild boars

This week Peter talks about football and wild pigs, a natural match some might say. But in this case the football’s being chased up and down a pitch in the West Midlands, while the wild pig we’re talking about is a wild boar being chased through forest near the Caspian Sea.

Hog roast baps outside Molineux stadium

Hog roast baps outside Molineux stadium

Good news for anyone who’s got a van selling cheeseburgers and pies, the football season’s kicked off again.  I’ll save the stories of the finer points of football match dining for another time – the bag of chips before the game at Watford, volcanically hot half-time pies at Luton Town, really good cheeseburgers at Gillingham, pie and mash at West Ham and toasted tea cakes and a pot of tea on the way home from Leeds United. What’s relevant this week are the superb pre-match hog roast baps you can get outside Molineux, home to the team I’ve been following man and boy, wonderful Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The first few weeks of the football season never feel right to me, the weather’s too warm, football’s best watched in the cold. In fact, my favourite matches are mid-week evening games in January or February when you really have to wrap up to keep warm. On those nights the surface of the pitch looks like a snooker table under the floodlights, and your breath makes little puffs of steam in the cold night air as you settle into your seat clutching a warm pasty and a paper cup of hot chocolate. But on weekends when we have a home game on a Saturday afternoon I seek out the hog roast van. I just follow the smell of roast pork and look out for the long queue. The hot roast pork baps at Molineux are legendary; I have mates who hope their team will be in the same division as Wolves each season so that they can come to Molineux to join me for one.

Buying a roast pork bap can be a bit of a nerve-racking experience. For a start, the sweet smell of roast pork wafting past will have got your olfactory bits working overtime. And you’ll be wondering, how many people in the queue in front of you? Will there be any pork left by the time you reach the counter? But gradually the queue shortens and finally there you are, watching with growing anticipation as slices of hot roast pork are cut from a juicy joint and then arranged inside a soft, white bap. If you’re lucky, there’s a bit of crackling in there, too. Then in goes the sage and onion stuffing, then some thick gravy. If you want it, you can have apple sauce as well. As one of my sons commented, “It’s like a complete Sunday roast in a bap.” Well, apart from the roast spuds and veg, of course. As much as I love the mighty Wolves, there’s been many a Saturday when that roast pork bap has been the best part of the afternoon’s proceedings.

Hunting wild boar in Iran

A few years ago, I spent Christmas in a small town near Munich. If Bing Crosby had turned up crooning it couldn’t have been more Christmassy, we were up to our armpits in snow. One afternoon we headed off for a long walk in the forest, a real Hansel and Gretel of a forest, and somewhere in the middle we came across a big log cabin of a place where they served wild boar sausages.  If you’ve never tried them, wild boar sausages are fabulous. They’re really meaty and served with tangy, hot mustard, are absolutely delicious. This rather nicely sets up a story sent in by John, who now lives in a lovely part of Umbria in Italy, but who lived in Tehran during the 1970s. Some of our stories may make you want to curl up with nostalgia, some may amuse you, this one has a touch of the macabre about it.

Hog RoastJohn had a mate in Tehran who used to hunt boar for their meat in the mountains near the Caspian Sea. You have to mind how you go out there, the jungle on the Caspian coast is dense and there are leopards and bears as well as boar. In some villages in the area wolves roam the streets at night.

Anyway, John’s friend was hunting one day when he saw a whacking great boar crashing about in the undergrowth. He took aim with his rifle and put a hefty bullet into the beast, killing it stone dead. The animal’s body was so large it smashed a path through all the young trees as it crashed its way down to the valley bottom.

John’s mate and his friends quickly set about gutting the dead animal there and then, to keep the meat from spoiling and to make the carcass lighter. Then they pulled it along a stream to the village where their car was parked.  Even gutted the boar must have weighed about 200 kilos, that’s somewhere in the region of 31 to 32 stones. They manhandled it into the boot of the car and were about to switch on the engine to drive home when they suddenly heard an incredibly loud squealing sound coming from the boot.  Totally confused, because the boar had definitely been dead two minutes before, they all leapt out and rushed to the back of the car. They found the source of the terrible noise, the animal’s weight was so great it was compressing the petrol tank and air was escaping.

Eventually, the boar’s meat was distributed among friends and their families in the village, especially those who owned hotels, where it was quickly put on the menu to the delight of many tourist guests. John says he and his wife were given a few pounds of the meat which they roasted, enjoying several large dinners, (not all at once of course), all of them absolutely delicious.

How to cook pork to make it taste like wild boar.

A recipe for pork chops with cider sauce.

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