Renowned for the quality of its meat, its strength and voracity, Italian wild boar or "cinghiale" is a combination of the region’s native Sus Scrofa and the wild boar introduced from Eastern Europe. Due to the absence of natural predators, the number of wild boars has risen and risen over the past few years.
Today there are about 150.000 wild boars in Tuscany, and some of them have been causing many damages to agriculture (a 50 kg boar needs around 4,000-4,500 calories per day*). It may weigh from 50 to 180 kg and eats bulbs, tubers, roots, acorns, wheat, corn, eggs, birds, small rodents... almost everything. Its average lifespan is 15-20 years and every year females can give birth to anywhere from 4 to 8 puppies.
Boars are highly widespread throughout the region, especially in the Maremma, where it has became a local symbol. In Tuscany, wild boar hunting is both a tradition and a passion. The Hunting season changes depending on the area and runs from October to late January, only in areas and allowed days.
With pasta or in a stew, there are countless Tuscan specialties made with wild boar and you can taste them all at many food festivals (sagre del cinghiale), maybe accompanied by some other local delicacies, such as "tortelli". Here are some of the most important events for "cinghiali" fans:
In November, Sagra del Cinghiale in Chianni (Pisa area): a historical feast where you can taste the famous wild boar with olives, still green, off the trees. More info, here.
- First week of December, Sagra del Cinghiale in Suvereto (Livorno area): a historical feast in one of Italy's most beautiful towns. Not to be missed!
- In May, Sagra del Cinghiale in Pelago (near Florence): where you can also taste local ravioli and grilled beef
- In July, Sagra del papero e del cinghiale (Duck and wild boar feast) in Cerreto Guidi (Florence area) and the Sagra del Cinghiale in Cantagallo (Prato area).
- In August, Sagra del Cinghiale in Borgo San Lorenzo (Mugello area, near Florence): the perfect place to try the famous potato tortello with wild boar sauce.
- In April - May, Sagra del Cinghiale in Certaldo (near Florence): a great fair in the birthplace of Boccaccio. More info, here
- In June and July, Sagra del Cinghiale in Rispescia (Grosseto area): inside the Maremma Natural Park. More info, here.
- In August, Sagra del Cinghiale e del Tortello in Montepescali (Grosseto area): very important historical food fair where you can taste the huge and delicious local ravioli.
- August- September, Festa del Cinghiale in Porto Ercole (Grosseto area): a big feast in a charming town by the Maremma coast.
September, Sagra del cinghiale in Capalbio (Grosseto area): a perfect opportunity to visit the southernmost town of continental Tuscany The tradition of cooking wild boar was born in the Maremma and later spread into other areas of Tuscany. For those who want to bring a very Tuscan taste to the table, here are two recipes to try this season:
Wild Boar stew (Cinghiale in Umido)
- 1 kg wild boar
- 200 g onions
- 100 g celery
- Bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berry
- A half glass of wine
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, pepper, chilli
- Meat stock
- 300 g of peeled tomatoes
- Soak the wild boar overnight in water and vinegar with the juniper, bay leaves, celery and rosemary
- Finely chop the onion and celery and sauté in a pan with extra virgin olive oil
- Drain the wild boar and add to the pan and sauté for a few minutes
- Add salt, pepper and chilli and finally sprinkle with wine and let evaporate
- Add the tomato, cover with the meat stock and cook for about one hour and a half
Wild boar sauce (for pappardelle pasta)
Follow the same procedure for making the wild boar stew. Once the meat is cooked, chop it finely and continue cooking. The perfect kind of pasta for this sauce is wide egg-based pasta, such as the very Tuscan Pappardelle.
Recipes source: Consorzio Vino Chianti, Ricette Toscane
Special thanks to Aurelio Barattini (from Antica locanda di Sesto) for the great photos :)