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Ugly Animal, Killer Salami

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When we rented a 500-year-old farmhouse outside of Florence, we were sternly warned that there might be wild boar roaming about. It might have been kinder to warn us of gun-toting Tuscans, who track the snorting beasts for their prized, slightly gamey pork. Everywhere, in Tuscan salumerias, we saw the success of our local cacciatore, mostly in the form of cinghiale sausage and shaggy-pelted legs of boar prosciutti.

Though I did manage to smuggle some home, I whispered a fond goodbye to wild boar salami, assuming that, like many foods, I’d only taste its unique flavor in Italy. Imagine my surprise when, in Dobbs and Bishop Fine Cheese (107 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville 914-361-1770), I came upon Utah-made Creminelli wild-boar sausage, one of two types of boar sausage available in the store. Fattier and milder than the wild Tuscan version, Creminelli’s sausage is made with “field-harvested” (wild hunted) Texas boar mixed with domesticated, heritage-breed Duroc pork belly. Unlike domestic pig, scrappy wild boar yields a lean, somewhat gamey, dark red meat. Creminelli’s maroon sausage is seasoned with wine-soaked cloves and juniper berries, and its complex flavor bears witness to the boar’s wild diet of roots, grasses, nuts, and berries.

Creminelli wild boar sausage pairs well with almost anything, but it’s especially good with strong cheeses, big wine, and lush fruit like figs. Though pricey at $35.60 per pound (and each link weighs approximately a half pound), a few paper-thin slices go a long way, and a single link will last a long while. As Dobbs and Bishop’s owner Kevin McNeill scolds in his Glaswegian burr, “Don’t be lazy… take your time when you slice it!” Big chunks will wind up being too chewy, while its fragile fats will melt before you can swallow the meat. This salami is one delicacy that rewards frugality.

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