Boars and feral pigs can be found in wild and semi-wild areas across much of the world. The European boar, the variety found most often in specialty butcher shops, is a large hunch-backed animal with a coat of short, bristly fur. When hunted in the wild it can have a strong and gamy flavor, though the farmed version is milder and closer to conventional pork in taste. Boar legs are traditionally marinated for days in seasoned red wine to tame their gaminess. With farmed boar legs this step is optional, though it does add flavor.
Set the boar leg on a large cutting board, and use a boning knife to remove any small areas of skin left on the leg. If the layer of protective fat is especially thick in any one place, thin it to match the rest of the leg.
Score the fatty areas lightly with your knife, being careful not to cut into the meat. Wipe the whole leg dry with paper towels, and wipe away any fragments of bone from the hip and ankle sections.
Season the leg all over with salt and pepper. Stud the leg with slivers of garlic, or mash 3 to 6 cloves of garlic to a paste with the side of your knife and spread it over the leg. Most recipes call for additional bold flavors such as rosemary or juniper berries to be used with boar.
Place the leg in a large roasting pan with a rack, and slide it into the middle of a preheated 450 F oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 250 F, and continue cooking until the boar reaches an internal temperature of 150 F. For a 5- to 6-pound leg that will take approximately four to five hours, while a 10-pound leg can take eight hours or more.
Remove the boar leg from your oven and let it rest on a serving platter, covered loosely with aluminum foil, for 15 to 20 minutes. This gives you time to prepare a sauce from the drippings, if you wish, or set out your side dishes.
Carve the boar leg and serve it hot, with your choice of side dishes.
A traditional wine-based marinade usually calls for 1 to 2 quarts of red wine and some red wine vinegar. Simmer these together with bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries, onions, thyme, cloves and other flavoring ingredients, then cool to refrigerator temperature. Submerge the boar leg in the marinade for up to 36 hours, then remove and pat dry. Roast as directed.
Boar legs can vary widely in size. Choose a small one for a family meal with leftovers, a big one for large gatherings.