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Yooper recipes

Harley L. Sachs - November 15th, 2010
Yooper Recipes: A taste for porcupine, beaver & rotten pheasant
By Harley Sachs
We just went through our book shelves and gave a box of cook books to Goodwill that we had acquired but never used. Someone will no doubt snap them up.
One is my favorite is the 1978 edition of “Favorite Recipes” published by the local Copper Country chapter of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. It may be a national club, but the recipes are clearly Yooper. This is not your hamburger and steak cook book. This is not about Cajun spices or things kosher. You won’t fine New York style clam chowder in this book.
You won’t find chocolate covered ants or fried grasshoppers, either. No smoked oysters, No Mississippi crawdads. No Chicago style hot dogs. No Scottish haggis.
Though road kill dishes are not on the list, you’d be amazed at what are. It’s clear that humans will eat almost anything. The Copper Country professional women collected recipes for venison, moose, rabbits, and animals you wouldn’t even dream of eating. How about beaver? Bear? Raccoon? Woodchuck? Squirrel? There’s even a recipe for porcupine. No kidding.
I can’t give you the recipe for porcupine because the book is copyrighted, but I’m confident that if you have a porcupine you plan to eat, you could easily find a recipe on the Internet (see below).
A friend of ours who knew a trapper used to put on an annual beaver barbeque. The trapper wanted only the pelts, but there’s lots of meat in a beaver tail. I can’t say beaver tastes much different than moose, but I don’t have an epicurean taste. I’m no gourmet.
Oddly, though the Copper Country professional women included squirrels and woodchucks in their recipe book, skunks are missing. Skinning a porcupine could have its hazards, but skinning a skunk and cleaning out the innards could leave you smelling like… you’d been skunked.
When we lived in Scotland I went on a couple of hare drives. With a line-up of coal miners enjoying the outdoors and armed with shotguns I marched across the open moor, scaring up white Scottish hares which competed with sheep for forage. Six Scottish hares eat as much as one sheep and the shepherds hated them as vermin. On one drive we gunned down about 150 of those hares.
A Scot would as soon eat a rat as a highland hare, but I took a couple of the fatter ones home and my wife, who survived World War II on homegrown rabbits, cooked them, serving them with home made elderberry sauce. On one occasion we were given a brown field hare, a hefty critter with enough meat on one hind leg to serve two people. But we soon tired of biting down on the odd bit of buckshot.
Then there was squab, also called pigeon. Borthwick Castle, where we were living at the time, was a tall tower and occasionally the pigeons that roosted on the roof got so chilled they fell off. I whacked one stunned bird and hung it, as prescribed, for a couple of days for the meat to tenderize (euphemism for slow rot -- pheasant was also famously prepared this way at one time). Only the breast was edible, but it was still tough.
My Copper Country cookbook doesn’t have a recipe for pigeon, but it does for partridge. The book doesn’t have instructions for preparing duck or Canadian goose. Maybe those are too ordinary.

Porcupine Stew

1 porcupine carcass
1/2 cup vinegar
8 cups water
1 boullion cube
2 teaspoon salt
1 large chopped carrot
2 small chopped onions
1/2 chopped green pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup water
8oz. can corn
4 cups cooked rice

1) Soak the porcupine in water and vinegar for 1 hour. Then place it in a stock or crock pot and add 4 cups of water. Cook for 4-5 hours until the meat falls off the bones. Cool and debone.
2) Combine 4 cups water, beef cube, salt and pepper, carrots, onions, and green pepper in a large saucepan and cook for 15 min. Add the meat and cook for 10 minutes.
3) Blend the flour and the remaining ¼ cup watyer and stir into the stew, add the corn and simmer for 5 min. stirring constantly...
4) Serve over hot cooked rice with grated cheese.
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