Tuscan Pork Stew with Polenta


This was an incredible dish from an article about Sting and his Italian estate in Food & Wine Magazine.  Apparently they have wild boar running about on the property, so every now and then they’ll hunt one, and the chef serves it up in this delicious dish.  Now that’s the life I’m hoping to lead!  At the moment, our English Pointer Jazz roams the grounds here in Burnsville, so we don’t have a lot of wild boar on hand for dinners.  Not to worry, we substituted the boneless pork shoulder as the recipe recommended, and the result was fantastic.   There are obviously a good number of ingredients, but the preparation itself was not that difficult.  In the end, the meat was tender as could be imagined, and the richness of the sauce was a fantastic counterpoint to the simple polenta over which it was served.  We enjoyed it with a fresh loaf of rustic peasant bread, and it was a stunner!


pork marinade

  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 sage sprigs
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes

stew and polenta

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped rosemary
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 whole cloves, 8 juniper berries, 2 bay leaves and 4 peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups polenta (not instant)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


Marinate the Pork:  In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the wine, rosemary, sage, red onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries and cloves. Add the pork and seal the bag, pressing out the air. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Make the Stew and Polenta:  Rinse off the pork and discard the marinade. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, cover the pork cubes with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain. Pat the pork dry.

Wipe out the casserole, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the pork cubes, celery, carrot, red onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat and vegetables are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the sage and rosemary, season with salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer over moderate heat until it’s nearly evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the chicken stock and spice bundle and bring to a boil.

Partially cover the casserole and cook the stew over very low heat until the meat is very tender and the liquid has reduced by half, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Whisk in the polenta in a thin stream. Cook the polenta over low heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is very thick and no longer gritty, about 30 minutes. Stir in the butter and season the polenta with salt.

Skim the fat from the stew and discard the spice bundle. Stir in the parsley and season with salt. Spoon the polenta into 6 shallow bowls, spoon the pork stew on top and serve piping hot.


3 Responses to Tuscan Pork Stew with Polenta

  1. Food Hunter says:

    I’m making this next weekend and hope to actually get the wild boar. We’ll see. It looks delicious.

  2. Nate says:

    Food Hunter –

    That’s great, I hope you’ll check back in and let me know how it turns out! If I can ask, where are you that you might be getting wild boar? I’m in Minnesota, and I just don’t think we have anything like that near us. I could be wrong, but I haven’t heard of it. In any case, get the juniper berries at your market to take the gaminess out of the meat, don’t skimp on the wine, and enjoy!


  3. Food Hunter says:

    I made it for mother’s day. It turned out fantastic. I’m in Phoenix and finally found a new butcher that was able to get me some boar. looking forward to leftovers tonight 🙂


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