Braised Beaver, Anyone?

Dear Corduroy Orange -

A friend of mine is interested in buying Beaver from his local Farmer’s Market and cooking it up, since it’s not a meat you often see for sale.  This also means he’s not sure how to prepare it.  He’s been looking at various receipes, but based on your knowledge, are there better ways to prepare this type of meat?

Thanks,
Curious in STL

I thought you could go to jail for trying to buy beaver on the street.  Wait, no, that’s for trying to rent it.

Seriously, though, I didn’t even realize that beaver was a meat that could be purchased, so I’d be interested in how it tastes.  I have absolutely zero experience with beaver preparation, so I don’t know that I’d trust my expertise in this area.  I do know, however, that it is a rodent; and I’m pretty sure it has some healthy musk glands that i assume the butcher responsible for dressing the carcass will have removed.

In general, though, I anticipate that it would have a somewhat strong flavor, and that the best results could probably be achieved by braising it (such as a stew or a pot roast).  As such, my recommendation is to season the beaver with salt and pepper, sear the beaver in a large cast iron pot, browning both sides.  Remove the beaver from the dish, and add a chopped onion, about a half dozen whole cloves of garlic, a handful of dried shiitake mushrooms, a bit of diced butternut squash, and perhaps some diced, peeled apple (season the vegetables with some salt and pepper as well).  Return the beaver atop this bed of vegetables.  Add enough vegetable stock (I’d hesitate to use beef or chicken stock because you don’t want to interfere with the taste of the beaver itself.  On the other hand, using plain water would likely dilute the flavor of the finished product) to cover the vegetables and go about halfway up the meat.  Bring the stock to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for three hours.  Serve with an accompaniment of mashed potatoes if desired.

Please let me know how your friend prepares his beaver, and how it comes out in the end.

4 Responses to “Braised Beaver, Anyone?”

  1. SamChevre Says:

    I have eaten beaver; in West Tennessee, it was a pest and we shot and ate them.

    Beaver is the most beef-like game meat that I’ve eaten (and I’ve eaten many). As such, I’d say cook it like lean beef–the above suggestion sounds good. Note that it has a slightly fishy flavor, and you can either try to hide that or try to capitalize on it. If you’re butchering it yourself, it has musk glands between the front leg and the rib cage.

    Beaver tail is a notable delicacy and is distinctly odd. (I did not like it.) It is somewhat sweet tasting, and has a gelatinous consistency like thoroughly cooked tendons.

  2. Pesto Says:

    My 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking has a Game section with recipes for the following:

    Rabbit
    Squirrel
    Opossum
    Bear
    Raccoon
    Muskrat
    Woodchuck
    Beaver
    Beaver Tail
    Peccary
    Wild Boar
    Venison (including elk and moose).

    There is no Russian-accented recipe for “moose and squirrel”, unfortunately. There is, however, a sort of cartoony set of drawings showing you how to skin a squirrel by making an incision under the tail, stepping on the tail, and pulling on the body until the skin comes off over the rodent’s head.

    Irma Rombauer came from St. Louis, just like your correspondent, which probably still had a feel for the frontier West back in her day, possibly explaining all the weird game meats.

    You guys are both right about beaver, if we can trust Rombauer (and who am I to doubt her?). She says that you should hang beaver in the cold for several days, poach in salt water for 1 hour, and braise as for beef. Her advice for the tail is to burn the skin over an open flame, peel when cool, and then “roast over coals or simmer until tender”.

  3. Doug Says:

    According to the Field Guide to Meat, “Beaver meat is dark, red, rich and soft in texture, though rather gamy in flavor”, “…it my be smoked to reduce the gamy flavor” and you should “choose a young, small animal for best eating.”
    Also: “Beaver fat has a strong flavor and odor and should be cut away completely before cooking. Soak the meat in enough salt water mixed with 1/4 cup (65ml) of vinegar to cover the meat overnight, refrigerated, to draw out excess blood. Rinse the meat in cold, clear water.”
    For preparation (also from Field Guide to Meat):
    Roast it with legs trussed to belly. Place it on it’s side in roaster.
    Cut slits in the lean meat to inserts strips of salt pork.
    Season with salt and pepper and dust with flour.
    Add a little water to pan.
    Roast at 325F for 1.5 hrs. with lid on. Add water as needed. Skim off fat as it accumulates.
    Turn beaver, add chopped onions, celery and carrots to pan.
    Finish roasting with lid off until meat falls of bones. (another 2hrs.)
    Make a pan gravy.
    and serve.

    Sounds interesting but, as a Canadian, I couldn’t imagine eating one what with it being the symbol of our nation. It’d be like an American eating a bald eagle. I do love Beavertails though. A very tasty fried dough!

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