Wild pigs, being wild, tend to move around quite a bit more in the course of an average day than their barnyard cousins. And, while acorns, roots and the occasional ag crop keep them plenty healthy, they don’t pack on the extra fat we are used to with domestic pork.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t taste as good, or sometimes even better, than the pork we buy from the grocery. Those acorns I mentioned earlier? Some of the best pork in the world is fed almost exclusively on acorns before being turned into prized Spanish hams.
You can take advantage of that flavor by slow cooking wild pork using low and long cooking methods like braising or smoking. When we cook up wild pig ribs, they usually come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, depending on shot placement and hog size. We cook them in a three-step process, first seasoned and smoked at 225 degrees on the Traeger for an hour, then foil wrapped with our honey-bourbon sauce for a couple of hours to tenderize, and then unwrapped on the open rack of the Traeger for another hour to set the glaze.
If you are feeding a crowd and need more space on your grill, a rib rack will help. Traeger makes a nice one and I’ve been using a prototype from Chef of the Future, one of my favorite seasoning companies. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming availability.
5 pounds pork ribs
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¾ cup honey
¾ cup bourbon
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon Traeger Rub
Remove membrane from inside of pork ribs (a butter knife and a dry paper towel work well, simply insert the knife between the membrane and the ribs, lift to loosen, then grab it with a dry paper towel and peel away from ribs.) Mix the dry-rub ingredients together and sprinkle liberally on both sides of the rack. Smoke on your Traeger or other grill or smoker at 225 degrees for 1 hour.
While the ribs smoke, heat the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir well to mix and move the pan off of the heat.
Remove the ribs from the grill and lay each rack in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil. If you have several small sections of rib, add them to one sheet of foil. Fold the sides of the foil up to form a tray and pour over some of the bourbon-honey sauce. Reserve a bit of the glaze for the final cooking stage. Continue folding the foil together to form a tightly sealed packet around ribs. Move back to grill and continue cooking at 225 for two more hours.
Carefully remove foil packets from grill and unwrap the ribs. Turn the temperature up on the grill to 325. Unwrap the ribs, taking care not to get burned by the escaping steam, and move the ribs back to the grill. Drizzle any remaining bourbon-honey glaze over the ribs and cook for one more hour.
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