Finding culinary inspiration.. At the bottom of a bottle?

Being the foodie that I am, I get a lot of questions relating to cooking in general and a few relating to my cooking in particular.

One question that I often get is one that goes something along the lines of “Gee, Johan, how the f’ do you come up with those weird culinary ideas of yours?” As much as I would like to say that all my dishes are based on careful though, proper planning, and careful timing and execution.. The (sad?) truth is that a fair number of them are based on guess work and sheer fucking luck, and come about in a state of mild to heavy intoxication.. Such is also the case of one of my most recent innovations: Slow roasted leg of wild boar with three-whisky gravy and mashed potatoes.

The main problem with a creative environment fueled by alcohol and silliness is, of course, that details get a little sketchy and pics a bit blurry as no one really thought to bring a proper camera in wild anticipation of the innovation about to take place. I hope, however, that you will still enjoy this tale of how stupidly simple the process behind my cooking can be:

The date was January.. err.. somethingth.. I’d recently woken slightly dazed and confused on Dunkel’s couch after a night of binge drinking and other silliness. We were in the midst of a rather strange morning ritual involving listening to the recently deceased Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” while sipping a snifter of quality Scotch whisky..

In the middle of this ritual, Dunkel suddenly exclaims “Oh, I’ve got a project for the day!,” then retreats to the kitchen and comes back with an entire fucking leg of a wild boar and an absolutely dazed and insane look on his face, stating that “we should do something with this!”

“Okay,” I venture, recovering from my initial surprise, “I suggest slow roasting, lots of aromatic vegetables and eventually a gravy based on the roasting juices.” – “I agree,” Dunkel states, looking at my one liter bottle of MacAllan Elegancia 12 year old Whisky.. “And I think we need to add Whisky to the gravy!” – “Deal,” I mumble, draining my glass and following Dunkel and the “serves 10-12 people” cut of wild boar into the kitchen where we then set about clearning up most of the mess from last night in order to start the project.

Things were cleared up pretty quickly and sporadically, the oven was set to around 65 degrees centigrade (which is as high as you should cook pork no matter what your grandma or various scaredypants tell you!) and the hunt was on to find a suitable vessel to cook the leg’o’boar in.. Which proved a little more difficult than expected

After a lot of searching around and an equal amount of swearing, we eventually located a non-stick roasting dish which (almost) had room for the roast and, toasting enthusiastically, we set about the very complex task of seasoning the roast and adding aromatic vegetables. We solved this complex problem by pretty much pulling everything that could be qualified as “aromatic vegetables” out of the fridge and throwing them into the pan without much more than a wash and maybe a snap or two. We then chucked the roast on top, seasoned it well with salt and pepper and whatever else we found reasonable in our intoxicated minds which amounted to thyme, rosemary, tarragon, parsley and a generous coating of Dijon mustard to make it all stick.. Coz, well, yeah.

For liquid we added a bit of water, a bit of stock and a generous splash of MacAllan Elegancia Whisky, a generous splash of Tullamore Dew Whisky.. And some Bushmills Whisky as well, simply because we had the option of using three kinds of Whisky and it somehow seemed reasonable at the time.. After everyone and the

dog had approved of the result,

we chucked the damn thing in the oven and forgot about it for a good five hours.

Well, that is we TRIED to forget about it for a good five hours.. But the damn thing smelled so nice that it was kinda hard to ignore.. Which was probably a good thing because it inspired us to check on the thing often and, eventually, realize that we had completely forgotten to add bacon to the mix.. Which was just a plain silly rookie mistake as we had a pack of bacon just sitting around in the fridge waiting to get wrapped around the roast. So after some five hours, we retrieved the roast, added bacon and popped it all back.

We then waited patiently for another good three hours or so. We then evacuated the roast once more, had a good peek at it, drained the juices into a sauce pan where we let it rest for a good half hour or more while we made the sauce and a bit of mash to go along.

The mash was made in the usual way using boiled potatoes, salt, pepper, nutmeg, a heart-clogging amount of butter and a bit of skim milk to taste.. Careful on the milk, mind you, you don’t want too many calories in there!

Ages ago, I made a pledge never to try my hands with mash, so while Dunkel took care of that, I did what I do best.. Or better than mash anyways.. Which was to take care of the gravy: it started with a bit of roux (flour and butter) which was browned nicely in a sauce pan, the roasting juices from the meat were then added along with a splash of Whisky (for good measure), some cream and a splash of caramel coloring.. It was then left to reduce slightly and grow all thick and nice-like.. Simple as could be.. And tasty as could be!

“D’you realize,” I said to Dunkel as we were putting the finishing touches on everything, “that a lot of people would be terrified to attempt what we just did.. And here we are, getting wasted, cocking about and just guesstimating our way through this.. Isn’t that funny?” – “Well, we’re more awesome than the average chef,” Dunkel simply declared, raising his glass to me.. And with that in mind, we were ready to carve the roast, plate it up and feast.

And feast we did.. Because, well, despite all the weirdness, the guessing and considerable blood alcohol levels, I’d have to declare awesomeness on the result. Wild boar really is one of my favorite eats, probably because it’s gamey yet not too gamey and still distinctively pork-like in a less fat than domesticated pork kind of way. The herbs and the vegetables went really well with the gamey flavors of the meat and (along with the obscene amounts of expensive Whisky) added a nice touch to the gravy which was out of this world in a “I’d like to just eat this with a spoon” kinda way.. A feat which may or may not have been attempted.

With Dunkel, myself and his girlfriend, Marianne, we ended up a total of three diners and while we did not entirely devour the “serves 10-12 people” hunk of meat, we did our damn best and got pretty shockingly long on our quest to finish it up.. Suffice to say, we didn’t quite make it.. But if you’re interested in seeing how a couple of strapping young lads look after trying to finish a meal fit for ten, look no further than here:

Yeah, not too pretty, is it? But what did you expect? Honestly, it was a rather silly attempt, a rather silly idea altogether, but it just had to be done.. If for no other reason then to prove that it doesn’t take a clear-headed genius to achieve culinary innovation. I’m sorry if that causes disillusionment to anyone 😉


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