Lets face it: unless you live in rural Italy you're unlikely to come across wild boar. So feel free to substitute another game like venison, or duck - or even use pork. You'll need to reduce the cooking times; boar needs a lot of cooking. Pappardelle are extra wide tagliatelle. And they are the traditional accompaniment to game sauces in Tuscany– you can buy them dry or make them yourself. If it’s the former, make sure you select a good quality brand.
For Benedetto’s ragù, serves 4:
Marinate 750g boar or other game in red wine seasoned with pepper, and a bayleaf. Leave it in the fridge for a good 12 hours.
Make a soffrito with a carrot, onion, celery stick, and garlic. Saute this mixture in olive oil with two thick rashers of pancetta, which you have diced. Once they’re soft, stir in the drained and diced wild boar and season this with a half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Plus a knife tip of cayenne pepper, and a grated square of dark chocolate – it must be 80% cocoa or thereabouts. You cannot taste the chocolate but it adds richness to the sauce.
Add enough red wine to cover the meat, season with salt, cover, and leave to simmer for a couple of hours if it’s boar, but less if it’s other meat. Add water or stock if it gets too dry – you want a small amount of liquid at the end, with tender, non-chewy, meat.
Chop 3 leaves of sage with the stripped 20 cm twig of rosemary and stir this in to the ragù.
Cook the pappardelle according to the manufacturer’s instructions – or simmer for around 3 minutes if you’ve made them yourself; in both cases you’ll need to taste them for doneness. Drain, keeping a tablespoon of pasta water back.
Mix the pasta, pasta water and the ragù together.Plate the pasta up into warmed bowls and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.