This Wild Boar Ragu recipe can be enjoyed with pappardelle pasta, polenta or a pasta of your choice. It is a common dish on the menu at Italian restaurants! It’s also frequently served at community tastings or church fundraisers in Italy.
If you can’t find wild pig (aka wild boar) in your neck of the woods, you can substitute boneless pork, beef, bison or lamb. We recommend using wild game meat or a gamier meat as it will more closely resemble the flavor that you’ll get when cooking wild boar in the authentic Italian recipe we present here.
Watch the Video Recipe!
Learn how to make this Wild Boar Ragu recipe with Italian Grandma Lulu in this video recipe, filmed in Italy:
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How to Make Wild Boar Ragù: Tips
In Italy, this dish is called Pappardelle al Ragù di Cinghiale —Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragù. Wild boar is a lean meat that is absolutely amazing when prepared properly. Seriously, this a favorite dish offered in restaurants throughout Italy.
However, this wild boar recipe is also delicious with other strong tasting meats like bison or lamb. Or, you can simply use beef or pork and avoid the steps involved in removing the gamey flavor.
Cooking Wild Boar
If you choose to use the traditional wild boar to make this Wild Boar Ragù, you’ll first want to remove the excessive gamey flavor. To do this, we start with an aromatic marinade.
Marinade the Meat
Cut the meat in bite size pieces and let it rest in the marinade for 12-24 hours. In addition to flavoring the meat, the wine in the marinade will absorb a lot of gamey flavor. So, you’ll toss out the wine when you’ve finished marinating the meat.
Pre-Cook the Meat
If you are using any wild game for this recipe including wild boar, you’ll want to pre-cook the pieces of meat over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Remove any liquid that is extracted from the meat during this cooktime. Strain out this liquid, throw it out, and return the meat to the pan. Continue this process until the meat is no longer giving off water.
Can’t find wild boar?
Substitute boneless pork, beef, bison or even lamb.
Remove that gamey taste!
If you are using a wild game (wild boar, bison, lamb) you may want to pre-cook the meat in order to remove the strong flavor that can overwhelm our dish.
Cook the meat over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Remove any liquid that is extracted from the meat during this cooktime. Strain out this liquid, throw it out, and return the meat to the pan. Continue this process until the meat is no longer giving off water. We’ll replace the water lost with our own sauce while the meat slow cooks.
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Wild Boar Ragu Sauce with Pappardelle Pasta
- 2 ½ lb wild boar or: pork, beef, bison or lamb
- 1 carrot
- 8 leaves sage fresh
- 1 rib celery
- 5 leaves bay leaves
- 2 sprigs rosemary fresh
- 1 handful thyme fresh
- 5 cloves garlic halved
- 1 small onion
- 2 tsp whole peppercorns
- 2 tsp dried juniper berries
- ½ tsp cloves
- 1 bottle red wine Chianti a good choice; reserve ½ cup
- olive oil as needed
- 4 cloves garlic fresh
- 3 fresh chili pepper
- 4 tsp fine salt
- black pepper to taste
- 2 cups water or as needed
- ½ cup red wine from bottle used for marinade
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
- 11 oz tomato purée
- 1 small onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 rib celery
- 14 oz pappardelle or tagliatelle or fettucine
Marinate the Meat
- Cut the meat into large, bite-size pieces.
- Cut the onion into very large pieces. Combine all of the marinade ingredients into a large bowl with a bit of wine.
- Add the meat to the marinade and mix thoroughly. Add more red wine to the marinade, until the meat is covered with liquid.
- Cover and let the marinated meat rest in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Remove the meat from the marinade. Throw out all of the wine and marinade aromatics—their job is done! Transfer the meat to a large skillet.
Wild Game? Pre-Cook the Meat
- Cook the meat over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Remove any liquid that is extracted from the meat during this cooktime. Strain out this liquid, throw it out, and return the meat to the pan. Continue this process until the meat is no longer giving off water.
- Then, remove the meat from the pan. It’s time to sauté it in some olive oil and aromatics!
Sauté the Meat
- Add a generous amount of olive oil to the bottom of a large skillet. Add four cloves of garlic (whole) and chili pepper to taste. Sauté (soffrito) over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the garlic and pepper (throw them away) and add the meat to the skillet.
- Sauté the meat in the infused oil for 1-2 minutes. Add salt to taste (about 2 teaspoons) and black pepper to taste.
- Cut some of the meat into smaller bite-size pieces (feel free to use kitchen scissors!)
Make the Sauce
- When the meat is sticking to the pan, add 1/2 cup of red wine.
- When the wine is evaporated, add a cup of water.
- Cover and reduce. When the water is reduced, add another cup and reduce again.
- Add the tomato paste, crushed whole tomatoes and tomato puree. Add a whole onion, and the carrot and celery chopped into a few large pieces. Add another cup of water, salt to taste and more chili pepper to taste.
- Cover and simmer the ragu for an hour and a half.
Finish with Pasta
- Cook pappardelle according to package instructions. If you are using fresh pappardelle, cook it for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Toss the drained pasta with the sauce and serve!