Are You Tired Of The Same Old Burger
I know that I get a little bored with my grill by the middle of summer. I always start off strong, but by mid-summer I feel like I am stuck in a little bit of a rut. This year I tried to mix it up and experiment with something other than ground beef for my burgers, and it has done wonders to keep my grilling fresh and exciting, not to mention delicious. What’s my secret? Ground wild boar!
Inspiration struck while I was eating a burger after spending the day climbing a mountain. My climbing partner and I stopped at a wild game restaurant that sold burgers made from all sorts of wild game like elk, venison, and bison. A few days later, I noticed that one of my local Natural Grocers was carrying Durham Ranch Wild Boar and I thought, “I’m going to make boar burgers!”
All about boar
One of the interesting things about boar meat is that it comes from feral boar, an invasive species that runs wild in many parts of the United States and causes numerous problems including outcompeting native species for food, destroying the nests of ground-nesting species, killing fawns and young livestock, destroying crops, destroying native vegetation, and even damaging water quality. Adult boars weigh in at 100-250 pounds and can require upwards of 4,000 calories a day, meaning they must constantly forage for food, leading to significant environmental damage. In the absence of natural predators, wild boar hunting is an ecological solution to decrease the wild boar density and their impact on the environment, as well as reducing their economic impact on agriculture.
While state and local governments are working on dealing with this invasive species, some companies have focused on utilizing the meat from these animals so it does not go to waste. The resulting product is truly a free range meat, as these animals are living in the wild, eating acorns and grazing on brush—you know with certainty they are not coming from a feed lot or other intensive animal production system. Furthermore, because they are not raised on a farm, you know that these boars were never given antibiotics, for therapeutic or non-therapeutic reasons, and were never subjected to some of the physical alterations, such as tail docking, that are common among conventionally raised pigs.
One thing that I really love about boar meat is that it provides exceptional nutritional content at a great price. Studies show that because of their lifestyle and diet, the major fatty acid in boar meat is primarily the heart health supportive monounsaturated fat, oleic acid (the same fatty acid found in olive oil). This was attributed to the fact that boars consume a lot of acorns—the primary fat in acorns is also oleic acid (63.8%). One study concluded that the nutritional composition of boar meat was comparable to meat from pasture-raised domestic pigs, a product that is hard to find and quite a bit more expensive. Other studies comparing boar to other types of wild game have shown that boar is a denser source of protein than lean meats like deer or elk. Furthermore, wild boar is a source of fat-soluble vitamins like naturally occurring forms of vitamin E, many of the B vitamins, and iron.
So how did my burgers turn out?
The first round of burgers were good, but not great—I have to admit that I overcooked them (no grill master ever wants to admit that). Boar meat is quite lean, so on the second go-round I turned down the heat and they turned out much, much better.
Boar has a slightly nuttier, sweeter flavor profile than you would expect, which really makes you want to experiment with flavors and toppings. Ideas that immediately came to mind included:
- Topping the lean burger with something juicy like a fried egg
- Adding a ring of grilled pineapple, some romaine lettuce, and a slice of Swiss cheese
- And my favorite, adding curry spices and a little ginger to make a boar curry burger
So if you’re feeling a little boar’d with your burger and are hankering to try something new that is also an incredibly high-quality product at a great price, I highly recommend trying the Durham Ranch Wild Boar. It may just become a new favorite!