Peculiar Perspectives on Peccaries: the tasty Javelina & a little girl power

Inedible. Skunk pig. Nasty creature. All words used to describe Texas’ native peccary, the Javelina. A closer look into understanding this unique creature and maybe, just maybe, people will start to appreciate them.

First off, the Javelina or Collared Peccary is NOT a feral hog. It is a small, robust new-world pig who primarily feeds on Prickly pear cactus. So unless you enjoy pristine patches of prickly pear on your property, they aren’t going to cause damage to the landscape the way a feral hog does. Aside from a few bugs here and there, Javelina are vegetarians by choice. Here’s the kicker, they are a native game species folks- meaning there are laws to harvesting them. No more than two per year can be harvested for a hunter in the state of Texas. So when I am on the internet and read, “kill them all” I shudder. Suffice it to say, I would love to see TPWD add two tags to our Texas hunting licenses to help educate the masses. But that’s a rant for another time perhaps.

The Javelina was my first native big game harvest in Texas. Having grown up North I wasn’t raised to despise this animal. The fact that grown men grumble and wrinkle their nose at the Javelina is dang near laughable. It boils down to being scared of a scent gland on the back of each peccary that they use to rub on every member of the herd. Skin a Javelina like normal and there’s nothing to worry about, they are a perfectly edible- lean pork.

Recently I ran my first hunt as Lead Huntmaster for the Texas Youth Hunting Program. An all girls Javelina hunt! Who better to educate about the wonders of the Javelina then our youth who haven’t yet heard all the “bad” myths about them. These girls were fearless, and all harvested their first Javelina. I couldn’t have been prouder of them and I hope that they continue to stand up for this unique native peccary.

Girl Power!

To prove a point, last night I concocted a wonderful Javelina meal. Here are the details:

Grilled Javelina Backstrap over Truffle Mashed Cauliflower and Prickly Pear Balsamic Reduction. (Feeds 2 people)

Grilled Javelina:
1 Javelina Backstrap cut in half
Spices: Paprika, Ancho Chili Powder, Cumin, Sea salt, Black pepper
Olive Oil

3-4 smashed garlic cloves

Mashed Cauliflower:
1 Head of Cauliflower, Chopped
Truffle powder or salt
Garlic or garlic powder
Heavy Cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Chives or scallions chopped for garnish

Prickly Pear Balsamic Reduction:
1/2 cup of favorite preserves (In this case homemade Prickly Pear jelly)
Aged Dark Balsamic vinegar (I prefer Salado Olive Oil Company made in Texas)

1. Marinate backstrap in a bowl with olive oil, garlic cloves and spices. You can add spices to your liking however, Javelina pairs well with Latin-American spices best.
2. Prep grill of choice.
3. Meanwhile, boil cauliflower until done (about 6 minutes) and drain thoroughly. Add to a food processor with parmesan, garlic and truffle powder. Add small amounts of heavy cream and pulse until creamy consistency. With truffle, a little goes a long way so be sure to taste and adjust to your liking. Add salt if needed.
3. Sear your backstrap on the grill, turning every 2 minutes or so. Cook for about 12 minutes total or until internal temp is between 145 and 150. A good temp thermometer is helpful when grilling wild game!
4. When done, pull your backstrap off the fire and let it rest.
5. Meanwhile add your preserves to a small sauce pan and reduce. Add a dash of balsamic. If you are using a good aged balsamic a little goes a long way. Keep an eye on the sauce pan as it can come to boil quite quickly. Stir until smooth and heated through.
6. Plating. We eat with our eyes first! Add a dollop or two of the mashed cauliflower to a shallow bowl or plate. Top with chives. Slice your backstrap and rest on top of the cauliflower. Spoon over sauce reduction. Drippings left on the plate? Pour those on top of your backstrap as well to add more flavor!

ENJOY! Experiment, have fun. I used prickly pear jelly for this recipe since that is what the Javelina eats however, not everyone has that on hand. Any preserve will work well.

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