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Topini al Cinghiale (Gnocchi with Wild Boar Sauce)

Serves 6

• 1.2kg boneless wild boar, preferably cut from the leg
• 1.5 cups dry red wine
• 1 tablespoon juniper berries
• 2 bay leaves
• 6 fresh sage leaves
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small yellow onion, chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
• 600g plum (egg) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1.2kg baking potatoes
• 1 3/4 cups all purpose (plain) flour
• 2 egg yolks

To prepare the sauce, in a glass or ceramic vessel, combine the wild boar, wine, juniper berries, bay leaves and sage. Marinate the boar in a cool place for 12 hours.

Drain the meat and pat it dry with absorbent paper towels. Strain the marinade, reserving the liquid and seasonings separately, set aside.

In a flameproof casserole over moderate heat, warm the olive oil. Add the meat and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the seasonings from the marinade and continue cooking over low heat for about 50 minutes.  When the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, add 1 cup of the marinade liquid. Cook the boar for about 3 hours, gradually adding the remaining marinade so that the sauce never sticks to the pan. When the sauce is ready, season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the boar and keep it and the sauce warm.

Meanwhile, prepare the gnocchi: steam the potatoes in their skins until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the steamer and peel them. Place in a bowl and mash while still hot.

Add half of the flour and the egg yolks and work them very quickly into the potatoes until the mixture forms a firm, smooth dough.

Flour the palms of your hands and a work surface with some of the remaining flour. Using the palms of your hands and the surface, roll the dough into cylinders about 2cm in diameter. Cut the cylinders into pieces about 3cm long. Roll each piece over the prongs of a fork, pressing it in the centre lightly with your thumb. As the gnocchi are made, place them on another lightly floured surface.

Bring at least 6 litres of salted water to the boil in a shallow saucepan. Drop the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the water. As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon, draining well. Arrange on a warm serving dish.  Continue cooking the remaining gnocchi in the same manner.

As soon as all the gnocchi are ready, ladle the hot sauce over them. Slice the wild boar and arrange it around the edges of the dish. Serve immediately.

Salsiccie de Cinghiale in Crosta (Wild Boar Sausages wrapped in Pastry)

Serves 6

• 1 1/4 cups all purpose (plain) flour
• 1/3 cup unsalted butter
• Pinch of salt
• 1 tablespoon water
• 12 small fresh wild boar sausages or sweet Italian sausages (about 1lb/450g)
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heap the flour on a board. Using your fingertips, work in small pieces of the butter until all the flour has been absorbed by the butter. Add the salt and water and shape the pastry dough quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 1 hour.

The sausages should be about 5cm in length and a bit narrower than that. If necessary, cut larger sausages to about that size.

In a skillet over moderate heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the sausages and cook them until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and continue cooking until it evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let the sausages cool to room temperature.

Preheat an oven to 350oF (180oC).  Brush a 20 by 12 inch baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out the pastry about 2mm thick. Cut the pastry into 12 squares, each measuring about 6cm. Place a sausage on each square. Roll the pastry around the sausage and fold in the ends to enclose the sausage completely. Seal the seams with a little water.

Arrange the wrapped sausages in the prepared baking dish and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Serve very hot.

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