Game Day

Make your holiday meals memorable with game meats.

Roast Leg of Boar

Photography by Fred + Elliott. Location courtesy of Dover Hall.

Warm and cozy, surrounded by family and dear friends, the holiday table is the place to pull out all the stops, to spoil yourself and your loved ones with something special. Make game meats the star of the show this season, and you’re sure to have a memorable meal. 

Roasted boar, with its succulent, nutty flavor, requires a day or two to marinate but is otherwise simple to prepare—and a meal doesn’t get much more memorable than a towering leg of wild boar, dressed up with figs and a smooth, rich red wine sauce. Wrapping quail in prosciutto and stuffing it with Swiss chard helps to offset the game bird’s assertive, wild flavor, and loading up mild, delicate rabbit with earthy mushrooms and thyme creates an approachable presentation.

Balance the unknown with something that feels familiar—comfort food in the form of roasted root vegetables and a creamy celeriac puree that is like mashed potatoes all grown up. A tart, crisp fennel salad with blood oranges provides a bold visual, textural, and flavor contrast and a welcome break from the heavier meats and sides. Finish the feast with a delicately spiced poached pear and a creamy cheesecake gilded with candied oranges. As a little bonus gift to yourself, you can use the orange syrup from the candied oranges to sweeten hot toddies all winter long.

We suggest pairing this menu with spirits that stand up to big flavors. Try rum, brandy, or even a smooth, floral mead—old world potables with serious gravitas, perfect for slow sipping.

Menu

Roast Leg of Boar

Prosciutto-Wrapped Quail with Swiss Chard and Pine Nuts

Rabbit Fricassee

Fennel & Blood Orange Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Root Vegetables with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

Mashed Celeriac

Red Wine Poached Pears with Whipped Cream and Crumbled Gingersnaps

Candied Orange Cheesecake

Recipes

Roast Leg of Boar

2 bottles red wine, such as Pinot Noir

4 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic, smashed

6 sprigs rosemary

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon juniper berries

1 10-pound leg of boar

salt and pepper

1 12-ounce jar fig jam

24 fresh figs, quartered

Bring the first six ingredients to a simmer over medium heat in a saucepot. Simmer for 15 minutes, and allow to cool completely. Make several small slits over the surface of the boar, being careful not to cut the meat. Place the leg in a shallow dish, and pour the marinade over the meat. Wrap loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 36 hours, turning every 4 to 6 hours. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove boar from marinade and pat dry. Season the meat liberally on all sides with salt and pepper. Reserve the marinade, and strain out the peppercorns, juniper berries, and bay leaves. Place boar in a roasting pan, and roast for 1 hour with the door closed. Turn the roasting pan, and lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees. Continue to roast for an additional 3 to 6 hours, testing for doneness occasionally. The boar should reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Allow the roast to rest for 20 minutes before serving. 

Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinade with the fig jam and fresh figs in a sauté pan until the liquid reduces by half. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Continue to reduce on low heat until the reduction coats the back of a spoon. Slice boar and serve with red wine and fig sauce.

Serves 8

Prosciutto-Wrapped Quail with Swiss Chard and Pine Nuts

Prosciutto-Wrapped Quail with Swiss Chard and Pine Nuts

1 bunch Swiss chard 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

½ cup pine nuts 

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper

½ cup chicken stock

8 semi-boneless quail

8 thin slices prosciutto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the chard stems from the leaves and finely chop both. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic in a sauté pan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add chopped chard stems, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken stock and allow to simmer for an additional 10 minutes, until the liquid has cooked off. Set aside. Check quail for feathers, and place them on a cutting board, breast side down. Scoop a little of the Swiss chard mixture into each quail and bring the wings and legs together to close. Wrap each quail bundle snugly with prosciutto. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add quail, being careful not to crowd the pan. You may need to work in batches. Sear breast side down for 5 minutes, turn quail over, and place the pan in the oven. Continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and rest for 2 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

Rabbit Fricassee

Rabbit Fricassee

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter 

2 rabbits 

1 cup flour

2 cups cremini mushrooms, stems removed, quartered if large 

1 shallot, diced

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

4 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan. Dredge rabbit pieces in flour. Place rabbit pieces in a single layer in the sauté pan, and sear on both sides for 5 to 10 minutes per side. Remove, and keep warm. Add mushrooms and shallots to the pan. You may need a tad more oil or butter. Cook mushrooms and shallots for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and chicken stock, and scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the rabbit back to the pan, as well as the fresh thyme. Simmer on low heat, covered, for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the rabbit is cooked through; salt and pepper to taste. Remove the rabbit, and keep warm. Continue to cook the sauce for an additional 10 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs. Serve rabbit with sauce and mushrooms.

Serves 8

Clockwise from top: Root vegetables, mashed celeriac, and fennel & blood orange salad.

Fennel & Blood Orange Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

2 large bulbs fennel, peeled, greens removed, and sliced as thinly as possible, plus a few fronds for garnish

1 shallot, half sliced as thinly as possible, half minced

½ cup walnuts, shelled

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

salt and pepper 

4 blood oranges, segmented

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In two separate bowls, cover sliced fennel and sliced shallot with cold water, and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Place walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Turn baking sheet, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. To make the vinaigrette, combine minced shallot and vinegar in a small bowl; gradually whisk in olive oil as needed, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, remove fennel and sliced shallot from water and drain completely. Arrange a tangle of fennel on a platter and scatter with sliced shallot, orange segments, and walnuts. Drizzle lightly with vinaigrette, and garnish with fennel fronds.

Serves 8

Root Vegetables with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

2 red beets, peeled

2 yellow beets, peeled

6 carrots, peeled

4 parsnips, peeled

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with pan spray. Cut beets, carrots, and parsnips into roughly equal ½ inch-sized pieces. In a large bowl, mix vegetables, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on sheet tray and top with three sprigs of rosemary. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, checking for doneness and turning the tray half way through. Meanwhile, pick and chop the remaining sprig of rosemary. Remove vegetables from the oven to cooling rack. Smash roasted garlic cloves with the back of a knife, and return garlic and roasted vegetables to a mixing bowl. Toss with fresh rosemary.

Serves 8

Mashed Celeriac

2 pounds celeriac, peeled and diced

2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced

salt

1 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

pepper

2-3 sprigs thyme

In two separate pots, cover celeriac and potatoes with water, add a generous pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until tender, and strain. Meanwhile, heat heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan to a low simmer. Combine celeriac, potatoes, and cream mixture in a mixer with a paddle attachment, and beat until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with thyme.

Serves 8

Red wine poached pears and candied orange cheesecake.

Red Wine Poached Pears with Whipped Cream and Crumbled Gingersnaps

2 cups water

1 750 mL bottle dry red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)

2 cups sugar

4 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

4 cardamom pods

1 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled

1 vanilla bean, split open lengthwise

4 pears (Bartlett or Bosc)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons powdered sugar

12 gingersnap cookies, crumbled

Cut a piece of parchment paper that will cover the pears in the liquid to prevent evaporation and help the pears stay submerged. Heat the first eight ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pot until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches a simmer. Peel pears carefully, moving from the stem to the base in one smooth motion. Any blemishes will be more pronounced after poaching. Add peeled pears to poaching liquid, top with parchment paper, and return to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes; turn pears after 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whip heavy cream and powdered sugar in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment or by hand until soft peaks form. Carefully remove pears, and allow pears and liquid to cool. Pears can be stored in the liquid for up to two days and warmed to serve. To serve, slice pears in half, and top with whipped cream and gingersnaps.

Serves 8

Candied Orange Cheesecake

For the crust:

2 cups vanilla cookie crumbs

½ cup light brown sugar

8 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan lightly with pan spray. Combine all ingredients and press into the bottom and sides of the pan. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan in aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, and remove to a cooling rack.

For the filling:

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

2 teaspoons orange zest

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla

5 large eggs

Beat softened cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer for 1 minute. Add orange zest and mix to combine. Add flour, sour cream, and vanilla; mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, and scrape down the sides of the bowl between mixing to incorporate all ingredients evenly. Pour filling over the cooled crust, and set the springform pan into a roasting pan. Fill the pan with water until it is halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake for 1 hour with the door closed. Turn the cheesecake, and continue baking for another 50 minutes. Remove the cake, and chill in the refrigerator overnight or for 8 hours, covered lightly with aluminum foil.

For the garnish:

2 cups water

2 cups sugar 

1 orange, thoroughly washed and sliced as thinly as possible

In a wide pot, heat the water and sugar, gently stirring to dissolve the sugar, until the syrup reaches a low boil. Carefully add the orange slices and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn orange slices and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove candied slices to a drying rack over a sheet tray to cool. Reduce the orange syrup to drizzle over the finished cheesecake.

To serve, run a knife along the edge of the cake and pan to separate. Remove the aluminum foil and release the springform pan. Carefully blot any excess moisture from the top of the cheesecake. Arrange candied orange slices along the top of the cheesecake. Use a sharp knife dipped in warm water to slice.

Serves 8 to 12 


This article originally appeared in our December 2018 issue.

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