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Our family relocated from Geneva to an old water powered flour & sawmill behind the Saleve just over one year ago. Set in one of the valleys that run off the mountain, it feels like you are deep in rural France.

A few weekends ago we realized just HOW deep in rural France we now live!

One bright, cold, crisp Sunday afternoon, my wife and I were indoors, catching up on the weekly chores. I was down in the kitchen cooking off some dishes for the coming week to go into the freezer; my wife and two daughters were on the top floor making their fashion selections for the week ahead.

We are used to hearing a few rifle shots on a Sunday in the winter, but they are usually much further down our valley than the first three we heard that afternoon. When my wife shouted down “Gavin! Look out of the window! There’s a huge boar by our fence!”, I rushed to the window but the boar had gone.  Shortly afterwards, there were four more loud shots that sounded very close to the house.

After what we considered to be a safe period in which we had heard no more shots, my wife and I went outside to see what was going on. To our surprise there was a group of hunters no more than three meters from our boundary fence dragging a boar up the bank of the river to the rest of the hunting party that was waiting on the road.

At this point my wife’s protective gene kicked in. The hunters were left in NO doubt that this was not acceptable behavior. When our neighbors confirmed that hunting was not allowed that close to the house, she headed off the next day to the Marie’s office to mention the incident.

The following events leave me in no doubt that the local community here cares deeply about all its residents.

Following a visit from the Mayor himself, we had a visit from the president of the local hunting association in which we walked the grounds.  Two hours after he left we received a phone call saying the culprits had been identified (the bush telegraph obviously is in full working order here!). Shortly afterwards, a delegation from the hunting party arrived. I explained the situation once more and we walked the grounds again and discussed what to do next. The hunters offered to bring around a portion of the boar by way of an apology. I was unsure at this point if this was appropriate - would I be receiving illegal meat? I said that we would call them later once we had had time to refect on their offer.

After lengthy discussions, we decided to accept the hunters’ offer of a portion of the carcass. I had prepared two marinades for the meat. I was expecting maybe one or two kilos of diced meat. In fact I was presented with a hind leg butchered high with a portion of the back quarter (as is the style here in France), in addition to a foreleg joint still on the bone! After the hunters had left I spent the rest of the evening dicing the hind leg before putting it in one of the marinades to sit in the fridge overnight.

By lunchtime the next day the house was full of a deep, rich aroma from the slow cooking stew that had been prepared from the marinated meat. There was a knock at the door… it was the local, rural Police from the ‘Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage’. Again, I explained the situation, we walked over the ground and discussed what to do next. As we sat at the kitchen table, it occurred to me that we were cooking the evidence! Was it illegal to except the meat after all? Should I invite the police to stay for lunch and have them eat the evidence!  Luckily nothing was said, and after a nice coffee and chat they left.

It appears that the situation has now been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction!

Below you will find the marinade & recipe for boar stew that I cooked. You won’t find boar at the supermarket but ask a local butcher for it when it is in season. The recipe also works well with pork if you can’t get boar.

potatoesSpanish Style Boar Stew

Prep. Time: 24hrs    
Cooking Time: 4-5hrs
Yield: 8 persons

Serve With: Roasted whole New Potatoes, Green Salad

1.5-2kg Boar meat (large dice 5cm)
2 Bay Leaves
3 lg Rosemary Cuttings
2 Celery Sticks (rough dice)
300ml Red Wine (eg: Riojca)
8 Cloves
2 Onions (sliced)
6 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
1tbsp Black Peppercorns
2tbsp Juniper Berries (crushed)

Olive Oil
1tbsp Tomato Puree
250g Chorizo (rough dice)
100ml Noilly Prat
500ml Beef Stock
Corn Flour (to thicken)
300g Mushrooms (quartered)
Parsley (garnish)

1. Marinade meat 24hrs mix well
2. Drain off & reserve wine, separate meat from rest of
3. Brown off all the meat in a little Olive Oil, set aside
4. Fry off Chorizo & marinade veg until golden, add meat
back to pan,
5. Add reserved wine, Noilly Prat, beef stock & tomato puree
Mix all ingredients & bring to the boil,
6. Reduce heat cover with tight lid, cook for 4-5hrs,
7. 20mins before service add mushrooms.