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Varmints and Critters

January 2, 2013

The holidays may be so 2012, but I'm still getting reports from friends and family on what they made for their big holiday dinners. Most of the time, it was the usual suspects (turkey, ham, prime rib etc) but one report from a friend caught my eye: For Christmas dinner they roasted a 2 1/2 pound venison haunch that one of their friends had just shot. "This recipe was from Craig Claiborne's cookbook. I almost threw the whole thing out the first time I basted it with the wine marinade, because it looked like a big chunk of charcoal! But I persevered, and when it came time to carve, it was tender and beautifully rare--a deep pink, but with that lovely crusty outer covering. We roasted it covered in bacon strips like Craig told us to do." For New Year's, they cooked up a squirrel and black-eyed pea stew. They were given five squirrels that a friend had shot and cleaned. "We soaked them in brine for 24 hours, then dried, floured, and sauteed the meat in bacon grease. Then I tossed them into our parboiled black-eyed peas with a bunch of onions, carrots, cut-up sausage, chicken broth, salt and pepper. We added some fresh mustard greens, and cooked it an hour more." As I get older, I get less adventurous in terms of what types of meat I will eat (especially anything that looks remotely cute, like the little guy dressed as Einstein) and squirrel is near the top of my no thank you list. What are some of the more unusual meats you've had?

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