Wild Hog Tacos with Burrata and Fennel Salsa

Wild Hog Tacos with Burrata and Fennel Salsa
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About This Recipe

In the heart of California's wine country, nestled between the picturesque landscapes of Napa and Sonoma, is a culinary scene that continually evolves, drawing inspiration from the region's rich agricultural history. It's here that the deliciously inventive Wild Hog Tacos with Burrata and Fennel Salsa was birthed, a perfect representation of Northern California's ethos of fresh, local, and unpretentious gourmet experiences.

Wild hog, once a menace to many vineyards in the region, has now found its revered place in Napa and Sonoma kitchens. As local farmers and vintners sought solutions to protect their grapes, they discovered that these wild hogs, with their lean and flavorful meat, were a gastronomic goldmine. This sustainable choice of meat not only helps protect our vineyards but also brings a genuine taste of Californian terroir to your plate.

Complementing the robust hog meat is burrata. If you've ever had the chance to savor the creamy delight of locally-produced burrata, you'll know why this cheese is nothing short of a revelation. It's a nod to the Italian immigrants who've made Napa their home, bringing with them age-old cheese-making techniques and seamlessly blending them with California's dairy richness.

But what truly elevates this taco is the fennel salsa. Fennel, with its crisp texture and slightly spicy, anise-like flavor, is a mainstay in California gardens. The salsa adds that quintessential freshness to the taco, providing a balance and complexity that dances on the palate.

Now, any Napa local will tell you that no meal is complete without the perfect wine to accompany it. And these tacos are no exception. A crisp Frog's Leap Sauvignon Blanc from Napa, with its zesty lime and green apple undertones, complements the fennel salsa while adeptly cutting through the richness of the burrata. If you're looking for something that speaks to the very soul of Sonoma, then Cline Cellars Estate Rosé is your pick. This rosé, with hints of strawberries and citrus, beautifully accompanies the creamy burrata and spiced wild hog. For the adventurous palate, I'd recommend venturing slightly off the beaten path with Stony Hill Vineyard's Grüner Veltliner. This mineral-driven white wine with a peppery finish is an ode to California's adaptability and the global influences that it embraces.

Now, if you're visiting Napa, don't just stop at the vineyards. The Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant is an experience unto itself. It's not just a place to shop, but a treasure trove where you can discover local and international wines, including the varietals mentioned above.

Incorporating these tacos into a broader menu? Start with a light salad using fresh Napa greens, perhaps a beet and goat cheese salad. For dessert, a fig and almond tart would beautifully round off the meal, playing well with the wine's fruit notes.

So, the next time you're in Northern California, amidst its rolling hills and sun-drenched vineyards, take a moment. Savor the Wild Hog Tacos with Burrata and Fennel Salsa. Let each bite transport you through the culinary tapestry of Napa and Sonoma, a beautiful blend of history, innovation, and pure passion. Cheers to good food, exceptional wine, and the spirit of California's wine country!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Wild Hog

Wild hog, also known as wild boar or feral pig, is a unique and savory meat that stands out in culinary delicacies, especially in regions like Napa and Sonoma. This lean, gamey meat offers a distinct flavor profile that's both earthy and robust. Given its prevalent status in California's wine country due to historical factors, it has become both a challenge and an opportunity for vineyards and chefs alike. Embracing wild hog in local cuisine is a nod to sustainability, turning a potential menace to vineyards into a delicacy on our plates. Its presence in dishes like tacos not only adds a rich depth of flavor but also tells a story of the region's adaptability and resilience.

Perfectly Cooking Wild Hog for Tacos

  1. Start with Quality Meat: Ensure you're sourcing fresh wild hog meat, preferably from a trusted local butcher or vendor in the Napa or Sonoma region.
  2. Marinate for Depth: Given its lean nature, wild hog benefits immensely from marination. A blend of olive oil, local herbs, and spices can infuse the meat with flavor and tenderize it.
  3. High Heat, Quick Cooking: Wild hog is best cooked quickly on high heat to seal in the juices. A hot skillet or grill will give the meat a delicious sear.
  4. Rest Before Serving: Always let the meat rest for a few minutes post-cooking. This ensures the juices redistribute, making your hog tender and succulent for your tacos.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I substitute wild hog with another meat? Certainly! If wild hog isn't available, pork shoulder is a close alternative. However, keep in mind that the flavor profile will be milder.
  2. How do I store leftover Wild Hog Tacos? Place any leftover tacos in an airtight container and refrigerate. They should be consumed within 2-3 days for the best taste and texture.
  3. I'm allergic to dairy; can I omit the burrata? Absolutely. While burrata adds creaminess to the tacos, you can opt for a dairy-free cheese or simply amplify the fennel salsa for added freshness.
  4. Are there specific tools needed for this recipe? A good quality skillet or grill is essential for achieving the perfect sear on the wild hog. Additionally, a sharp knife will assist in finely chopping ingredients for the salsa.
  5. Can I make the fennel salsa ahead of time? Yes, the fennel salsa can be prepared up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. This allows flavors to meld, enhancing the overall taste.

Tips for Success

  1. Local is Best: Whenever possible, source your ingredients from local farmers or markets in the Napa or Sonoma area. This not only supports the community but ensures the freshest flavors for your dish.
  2. Mind the Burrata: Burrata is a delicate cheese. Add it just before serving to prevent it from melting excessively or losing its creamy texture.
  3. Wine Pairing: Don't forget the wine! As highlighted, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a delightful Rosé, or a refreshing Grüner Veltliner can elevate your wild hog taco experience, especially if sourced from renowned Napa or Sonoma vineyards.

With these insights and tips, you're set to create a memorable Wild Hog Tacos dish, truly celebrating the essence of California's wine country!

Recipe Overview

Recipe:
Wild Hog Tacos with Burrata and Fennel Salsa
Author:
Lily Anderson
Season:
Spring
Yield:
6-8 tacos
Calories Per Serving:
320
Prep Time:
PT40M
Cook Time:
PT10M
Total Time:
PT50M

Ingredients List

Ingredients:

For the Wild Hog:

  • 1 lb wild hog meat, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the Fennel Salsa:

  • 1 large fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and minced (optional for added heat)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Additional Components:

  • 6-8 small corn tortillas
  • 8 oz burrata cheese
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Wild Hog Preparation: In a bowl, mix together the garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Rub this mixture over the wild hog meat ensuring it's well-coated. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Fennel Salsa: While the meat is marinating, prepare the salsa. Combine the fennel, red onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro in a bowl. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Let it sit for flavors to meld.
  3. Cooking the Wild Hog: In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the marinated wild hog meat. Cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until fully cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Assembly: Warm the tortillas on a skillet or directly over the flame until they're slightly charred. Place a generous portion of wild hog on each tortilla, top with a dollop of burrata, and then add the fennel salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
  5. Serving: Serve the tacos immediately while warm.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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