Friday, February 12, 2010

Cook thine enemy

I remember the first time my husband showed up at the back door with his prize.  He was proud and triumphant.  Eager and excited.  If he had been a dog he would have laid his offering at my feet, waiting for a good ear scratch and praise.  But as he is a human, he simply waved his gift before me... a freshly killed woodchuck.  I think I screamed or uttered some type of horrified sound.  I did not scratch his ears.

I have come a long way since that first woodchuck.   I know I am lucky to be married to a man who belongs to the endangered species of hunters and gatherers.  A man who can kill a woodchuck with his bare hands,  gut it, skin it,  remove the7 to 9 small kernel like scent glands under the forelegs and quarter it up for cooking -- just like chicken!

Let me make clear - my husband is not some kind of caveman or macho gun nut who likes to kill four legged furry creatures just for fun.  He is a serious gardener and open minded eater.  Also frugal.  So woodchucks who mess with his garden must meet their fate on a plate.

You are probably thinking about now that this is too weird for you -- that I am a total outlier because I have a little woodchuck in my freezer.  But you would be wrong.  I admit woodchuck is not yet a mainstream meat.  But did you know that there is a recipe for woodchuck in the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking (page 615) ?  In the world of American cuisine, I don't think you can get much more mainstream than The Joy of Cooking. And did you know that woodchuck cuisine has even made it to the venerable New York Times? 

Follow the link below for the recipe for Woodchuck au vin.
This recipe is quite similar to the process I used for the woodchuck fricasee pictured in today's blog along with a picture of two hindlegs ready to saute and braise.  I did not use vermouth but did use plenty of red wine.  I used woodchuck stock, not beef stock, because that is what I had.   Because it is February and I had lots of great Featherstone Farm root vegetables on hand, I used parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas and turnips in addition to the carrots.  I took a pass on the olives because we don't have those in the stores in Fillmore County.  A few capers would be nice if you have them.

If you don't have a woodchuck hunter in your house,  you could make this wonderful winter vegetable stew with rabbit, chicken, pork, beef or lamb.  You could even make it without meat.  If you do that I suggest using a few cups of white beans for protein.

We are getting in touch with our inner carnivores.  I think my next post will be about homemade liverwurst.  Talk to you later.

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