Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cooking with Vermin

Hi Friends,

Being a good, progressive and earth-minded eater (and being stuck in this hell-hole on a sunny morning) requires actively questioning the categorization of the animal kingdom into animals to be eaten (chickens, cows, pigs etc), animals to put rhinestone collars on (dogs, cats, ferrets), and animals to reference when making crude and insensitive jokes about the diets of Appalachian Mountain People (woodchucks, beavers, kangaroo rats, squirrels) etc, etc.

This week, the folks at Gourmet gave a nod to Americana and embraced, kitsch-ily, the small game-o-centric recipes that they once loved:

But, what's with this? They admit to not re-testing the recipes before presenting them in this article? I know what a beaver looks like, dudes...But what does "Roast Beaver Michigan" looks like! Shame on them.

My favorite is the creamed woodchuck. This time of year, I like to substitute the roasted yams for parsnips- to add an unexpected layer of bite that contrasts the sweetness of the cream and the stank of the 'chuck.
Gourmet reminds us: be careful to remove the kernels under the forelegs and in the small of the back. What Gourmet doesn't tell you is that those kernels under the forelegs are scent glands that if cooked with the rest of the animal will leave the whole thing tasting like mayo, egg-yolk, and lobster-gut soup leftover from a hot Phoenix picnic.

But if you're really wondering what to do with the raccoon carcasses falling from your trees into your kiddie pool (Kyra- this might only apply to you) then Ruth Reichel and her staff of tongue-in-cheek phonies can't help you much. Go to the professionals:

The woodchuck patties in tomato sauce is a year-round favorite. Can't find decent tomatoes in March? You don't need to! The "tomato" flavor of the recipe comes from catsup and Worcestershire, American kitchen staples that transcend seasons.

Really, my Trio of Rabbit (Loin, Rack and Braised Leg) with Baby Vegetables,
Roasted Garlic, Natural Jus at La Folie (dry and bland, last time I had it) makes it onto a $90 Passot tasting menu but men won't make-out with me at bars when I admit to having once eaten squirrel that I killed and roasted myself! Come on Keller, Boulud! If ya'll are gonna buy into this whole seasonal and local thing: we're in America- where's the woodchuck?

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