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Posts Tagged ‘Wild Foods’

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I’ve wanted to make Son-of-a-Bitch Stew since forever.

It’s been so long I’ve wanted to make one that I can’t remember anymore where it was I first even heard of Son-of-a-Bitch Stew. And usually I can trot out the source of any recipe I’ve ever made or heard of because my mind is a Steel Recipe Trap.

I looked in all the cookbooks I’ve had for a long time. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Kaput. Son-of-a-Bitch Stew was not even mentioned by Waverly Root, and goodness knows he mentioned a lot of wonderfully, exceptionally odd things.

But that Son-of-a-Bitch Stew has been calling my name. I used to threaten people with the fact that I’d make it for them. Threaten or promise, that is. I was ready to do it at the drop of a hat (but only if it was a cowboy hat) and even knew butcher shops that had most of the ingredients.

That Son-of-a-Bitch (stew, that is) came awful close to hitting the stove once when a fellow from Wyoming came to lunch. Why Wyoming? (Say that fast five times . . .) Because Wyoming is a place where the Son-of-a-Bitch was known and loved. It’s not only in Texas, you know.

I was close to putting it on the menu, as close to it as a pig’s nose-ring is to the soil when they’re rooting around, but then I chickened out. Actually my mind was more running along the lines of making Son-of-a-Bitch-in-a-Sack, which would have been much more good old-fashioned fun, but darn it all. Something inside told me not to.

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I probably never would have found all the ingredients though, or at least not without saddling up my trusty steed and heading out for a long ride on the dusty trail in search of some of the more interesting tidbits. Then there’s also the fact that for sure the kitchen staff would have run for the hills themselves if I’d proposed the idea of Son-of-a-Bitch for lunch.

Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack is sort of like Son-of-a-Bitch Stew, or it’s not. It’s not when it’s a pastry, a dessert – like the recipe Alan Simpson mentions enclosing in his letter. But the other way is like an Extreme Son-of-a-Bitch-Stew. You get real, with this thing. Here’s a recipe for Son-of-a-Bitch Stew from Clifford Wright.

What I remember most, but what I can not find written anywhere (did I imagine it, as I loped across the imaginary plains on my imaginary horse?) is that the Son-of-a-Bitch in a Sack (the one that is not a dessert) (the one you get real with) was cooked in a cow’s stomach. Therefore the name.

Though that Son-of-a-Bitch is still calling my name, the words are fainter now as time goes on by. Now, when I read the ingredients list, no low growl emits from my throat – the growl that says “I Will“.  Now, the corners of my mouth turn up a bit in delight at the unbridled sheer macho joy of the whole thing. And I say to myself “Maybe. Just maybe. Someday.

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Clifford Wright’s “Real Stew” book (source of the recipe above) is here on my bookshelves. And although I winnow constantly, it has been – and will always be – a Keeper. 🙂
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Yeeeeeeeee-haw! Rawhide!

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In this vintage ad from the 1940’s we’ve now discovered how the Chiquita Banana Helps the Pieman – and have also had a fascinating demonstration on how to flute a banana.

But that’s only dessert. ‘Where’s the beef?’ (Clara would ask) – and here it is:

Recipes from Gourmet magazine during the 1940’s, from the archives. Note the simplicity of the instructions, and remember – the founder (in 1939*) and publisher of Gourmet was a fellow named Earle MacAusland, who loved huntin’ and fishin’  . . .  in a gentlemanly-gourmet sort of way.

Tequila Por Mi Amante

Oyster Waffles Shortcake

Creamed Woodchuck

Bachelor’s Defense

Moving right along, if you’re still prone to hunger pains, to some

Blacktail Buck Steaks

finished off with (don’t forget the banana pie too)

Imprisoned Fruit

. . . the recipe for which starts off with

Look over your tree carefully in the springtime, when the blossoms are gone and the fruit is just beginning to form. Choose a few choice specimens, each at the end of a branch, and insert the branch gently into the neck of a large bottle, until the fruit is well inside. The next job is to support the bottle so that it stays in place in the tree. This may be done with ropes, if the tree is large enough, or it may be necessary to build up wooden supports to hold the bottle.

At first, the native feel of the menu made me think of gentle old-timey innocent images in my mind. Little boys goin’ out to catch a mess of fish, oh so cute in their rumpled overalls

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But then upon musing on the menu components a bit further, it seemed to me that (more likely) the intent of all this cooking (whether done by the above-mentioned ‘bachelor’ or by his feminine equal) would be in hopes of something more along the lines of this, from Tino Rossi, 1945:

P.S. Edit added: *This date (1939) is not confirmed by source (yet). No bessame mucho here. Yet. 🙂

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I got pretty excited about gopher after hearing ‘Gopher Mambo’ by Yma Sumac:

What could I cook to go along with the gopher theme?

Here’s an idea, from Foods Our Forebears Ate:

Gopher stewed or fried is the most delicious thing, and I loved the pound cake mom used to make with sea turtle eggs and chicken fat. Now many of the wild foods can no longer be used as they are endangered. (And they say chicken fat endangers us!)

Now for some recipes! Let’s start with that Fricasseed Squirrel – make that Fox Squirrel. First if he was not trapped, check him over to make sure all the shot is out of him! You would hate to chomp down on a bit of metal while eating! Oops! Skin him first! Remove his innards and cut him into 6 pieces by splitting him through the backbone and then cutting the halves into 3 more pieces, each. OOPS! It’s been so long since I did this, I forgot if he has those little scent glands — better check! Then, dredge him in flour, seasoned to taste and fry him in some of the leftover bacon grease from breakfast (or from the crock you have been saving it in from past meals). Fry him up good and brown and remove him from the pan. Make a gravy of well-browned seasoned flour and water (some use milk, but for this, I don’t). Put Mr. squirrel back in the pan and simmer in the gravy till he’s tender as can be. Best served over grits with some collard greens & cornbread or mashed potatoes, garden peas & biscuits, or . . . Gopher tastes really good that way, too, but you can get a hefty fine nowadays for that one. Maybe you should just take my word for it.

I guess I have to take her word for it. No gopher for dinner tonight. 😦

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MoiraMoira’s Catty Corner

Eck eck eck. You’ll have to forgive these little noises that come deep from my throat so lovingly as I report on this topic, dolls. We’re talking squirrel here, and that makes me purr.

We’ll also talk about some of my other fav things – celebrity chefs – but before that let’s do our part to be cultured, as that is what cats do. Here’s something Emily Dickinson wrote:

Experiment to me

Is every one I meet

If it contain a Kernel? The Figure of a Nut

Presents upon a Tree

Equally plausibly,

But Meat within, is requisite

To squirrels, and to Me.

Emily has a way of understanding things, a way quite cattish! Prrrrrp.

Did celebrity chefs invent dining upon squirrels in one of their wild fits of adorable creativity that make us gasp and purr? Unfortunately, no.

The word itself, so lovely, sounding like my rough tongue rolling along its fur, comes from the Greeks. The Ancient ones. They gave it the name “skiouros” which means shadow-tail, for they believed the squirrels’ tail was made to wrap around the little guys, keeping them protected from the sun.

The Ancient Greeks may have been a little nutty but at least they were also poetic.

Eck eck eck. Back to the eating, please. A short history of this delightful taste-treat includes Brunswick Stew, native to Brunswick County Virginia, where the usual native American succotash was expanded to include little bites of squirrel meat, along with tomatoes. For some strange reason, Brunswick Stew never really took off to become popular anywhere except where there was not much else to eat.

That’s okay. More for me. Meow.

Jumping forward to current times, squirrel is becoming popular in some places. London is the epi-center of all things squirrel lately, based on my research:

In 2002, nutkin becomes a fine-dining item. A story dated March 10 of that year in The Independent reports that

Squirrel is on the menu at St John, a restaurant near London’s Smithfield market, and it’s delicious – like tender wild rabbit, braised with bacon and dried porcini mushrooms, musky flavours to echo its woodland habitat. But some might prefer to steer clear – because it borders on taboo.

Taboos were being fought in 2006 as this story (23 of March in BBC News) has it:

TV chef Jamie Oliver should encourage schoolchildren to eat grey squirrels in an effort to save the endangered red species, a Conservative peer says.Lord Inglewood said greys had to be culled to ensure reds – native to the UK – did not die out.

“I must confess that I have never actually eaten a grey squirrel… but I am prepared to give it a go,” he said.

“Unless something radical and imaginative is done Squirrel Nutkin and his friends are going to be toast.”

Eck eck eck! Eck! Lord Inglewood you have my full attention!

This year the passion for squirrel is growing. The May 11 edition of The Independent says that tree-huggers love the idea of squirrel. And why not?!

And then, dear ones, we get to those celebrity chefs!

A glut of back-to-the-wild TV programmes featuring celebrity chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has also tickled the public’s palate, but squirrel is still unlikely to be found in the family fridge. The Observer’s restaurant critic, Jay Rayner, said he had never tasted squirrel, but if he did have it for dinner ‘it would have to be a big, fat country squirrel and not one of the mangy urban ones you see in cities’.

The very same day, metro.co.uk gets down with the rodent even more!

Keith Viner, former chef of Michelin-starred Pennypots in Cornwall, said: ‘Southern-fried squirrel is good. And tandoori style works.

‘It is especially tasty fricasséed with Cornish cream and walnuts. But the one everyone seems to like is the Cornish squirrel pasty.’

I would love a Cornish squirrel pasty. Buttery, flaky, squirrely goodness! And no bones to choke on!

That’s the report from Catty Corner, dolls. I must continue with my yoga. If you have any ideas or recipes for squirrel you’d like to share with me, please purr please do! Eck eck.

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