Need tips on cooking wild game (opossum, raccoon, beaver)?
February 12, 2012 9:38 AM   Subscribe

How to cook wild game (opossum, raccoon, beaver)

There is a lot of wild game for sale at our local farmer’s market, including opossum, raccoon and beaver. We’re interested in trying these meats while we’re in the region, and while they're in season, but don’t have experience with them.

Looking for advice on preparing these meats (they're sold whole, but skinned), resources you've found helpful, or recipes you liked.
posted by scrambles to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Most wild meats are best grilled. Small pieces on skewers is a handy way to do it.
That said, I have had groundhog lightly dusted and pan-fried, and it was delicious.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:52 AM on February 12, 2012

Best answer: My grandmother (1905-2011) grew up on a farm in rural Oklahoma and she loved opossum in her younger days. According to Grandma, you had to catch them live, keep 'em in a cage for a week or so while you fed them a diet of corn meal or they didn't taste good at all. SHe liked opossum 2 ways, either in a stew or roasted in a pan with onions, carrots and potatoes.

She also said opossum always tasted better the next day as leftovers.
posted by buggzzee23 at 10:05 AM on February 12, 2012

Best answer: Besides grilling, you find game is often made into sausages, burgers and other dishes where the meat is ground up and mixed with spices, veggies, etc. Traditionally, this was for food preservation, but it also balances the "gamey" flavor and can add fats to super-lean game meats. This is why venison sausage is more popular than, say, straight-up venison steak.

Also, look for rabbit recipes, which are more common, and consider substituting the game for the rabbit.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:05 AM on February 12, 2012

Here's a cookbooks -- this from L.L. Bean.
posted by jgirl at 10:25 AM on February 12, 2012

The old Joy of Cooking had an extensive section on game including squirrel, muskrats, opossum etc.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:41 AM on February 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

The best recipe I ever read for possum went as follows: Procure a possum and a cedar board. Roast the possum on the cedar board until well cooked. Throw out the possum and eat the board.

The recipe was in a book of old fashioned Appalachian recipes. Your mileage may vary.
posted by OmieWise at 10:58 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ask the vendors how they'd cook whatever you're buying.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is the best possum recipe ever.
posted by Wet Spot at 12:29 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I once heard someone describe the cooking time for roast possum as "until him grinnin' ", which has stuck with me.
posted by cromagnon at 12:32 PM on February 12, 2012

I grew up eating a lot (relatively speaking) of wild game, and generally the way to go either involves 1). covering with bacon to add fat and cover the flavor, or 2). stewing to make the meat tender. Occasionally jerky as well. Usually, though, my family stuck to birds and herbivores. Omnivores were pretty gamey, and generally carnivores weren't worth it. I also question the wisdom of eating raccoon, as I've heard they are fairly common rabies carriers and probably not so hot on the parasite front either, unless raised entirely by the seller.
posted by daikaisho at 12:49 PM on February 12, 2012

The older editions of Joy of Cooking contain basic instructions for preparing game meats.
posted by apparently at 1:13 PM on February 12, 2012

Raccoon intestinal parasites, specifically, are extremely dangerous to humans, so nthing what daikaisho says.
posted by crapmatic at 1:24 PM on February 12, 2012

My babcia used to make a stew out of whatever my uncles trapped that day. It wasn't bigos but there's a dish that was made for wild game.
posted by Ruki at 3:27 PM on February 12, 2012

Best answer: From White Trash Cooking, which is actually a great resource for actual backwoods Southern cooking.

Aunt Donnah's Roast Possum

1 possum
1 onion, chopped
1 T fat
1/4 t Worcestershire
1 c breadcrumbs
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1 t salt

Rub possum with salt and pepper. Brown onion in fat. Add possum liver and cool until tender. Add breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, egg, salt, and water. Mix thoroughly and stuff possum. Truss like a fowl. Put in roasting pan with bacon across back and pour quart of water into pan. Roast uncovered in a moderate oven (350 degrees) until tender, about 2 1/2 hours. There's only one thing to serve possum with - sweet potatoes. You only eat possum in the winter.

Sounds good to me.
posted by cmoj at 6:23 PM on February 12, 2012

Seconding Ruki. Bigos==yummy
posted by Yavsy at 7:53 PM on February 12, 2012

Best answer: I've looked at and considered (but not yet tried) a recipe for groundhog in an old cookbook that we have kicking around. I don't see why it wouldn't work for possum and other types of small game as well, particularly "gamey" sorts...

Basically it starts off by having you break the skinned and cleaned animal down into sections, and then boiling it in a large pot of water with a substantial amount of baking soda in it (putting the meat in first and then heating the water up from cold, I think). Apparently this takes out some of the gamey flavor and tenderizes it somewhat.

Then you take the parboiled meat, dredge it in a basic salt/pepper/flour seasoning (which could be altered to taste) and pan-fry it in butter.

I'd imagine, given that procedure, that almost anything could be made edible.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:50 PM on February 12, 2012

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