Beav Stew

04/18/2009

I finally cooked the beaver I trapped last month, and it was fantastic!  Well, it was *way* better than I expected at least.  I followed the beef stew recipe that I usually make, but tossed in half of a beaver carcass instead of cubed stew beef.  Other than the shape of the meat (or rather, the bones), I really couldn’t tell the difference.  Even the color and texture of the meat was similar to stewed beef, very tender and a tad stringy.

This was a very pleasant surprise since, in my mind, I kept imagining that it would taste like the musky rodent smelled when I skinned it.  In fact, I have been delaying the consumption of this animal because every time I saw it in the freezer, I would smell the castor and oil sacs, which I of course removed.

In retrospect, I probably should have just lightly seasoned the meat and thrown it on the grill or in the oven.  This would have given me a better idea as to the properties of the meat in it’s natural state, which is what I have traditionally done with my other “first tastes.”  But beaver, like jack rabbits and many other mammals, can carry tularemia, so I felt the need to “cook the crap out of it.”

Regarding the method in which I took this beaver, I trapped it on the dam with a 330 conibear trap, which is large and extremely deadly.  This trap dispatched the animal much quicker and cleaner than my 12 gauge typically does when hunting upland game (though not nearly as exciting).  And even the quick suffering and death inflicted by my 12 gauge is much less severe than the pitiful life and death of your typical feed-lot beef, pork, or chicken.

Why take a beaver at all?  For meat and fur of course!  The bits of fur that don’t make it into a nice Russian hat will be used as dubbing for tying flies, which is pretty much what happens to all the game that I take these days.

It turns out that due to school and work pressures, I didn’t have time to take another beaver from this area, but don’t think for a minute that I plan to trap out the entire creek.  That would truly be a tragedy because this is prime rocky mountain trout habitat, and I absolutely love fishing the beaver ponds in this area.  I love the mountains! <sigh>

Make your own:
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 large potatoes, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Half of a beaver.  You probably need to remove the legs to get it to fit in the pot.  Substitute 3 pounds of cubed stew beef if you can’t locate a tasty beaver.
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions:

  • Dice the celery, slice the carrots, cube the potatoes, and toss them into the slow-cooker. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, the parsley, and a tablespoon of ground black pepper (more pepper suits me personally), and toss to mix in the spices.
  • Put the meat in a plastic bag with enough flour to coat it, and add a half teaspoon of salt.  Shake it until the meat is nicely coated.
  • Brown the meat in a skillet with some olive oil, and put it in the slow-cooker once the outside is evenly browned.
  • Add the butter to the skillet, slice the onions, sauté until slightly caramelized, and move them to the slow-cooker.
  • Boil 2 cups of water, and add the onion soup mix.  Stir until the mix is completely dissolved, and add to the slow-cooker.
  • Pour some red wine into the skillet, and stir to loosen the delicious browned bits from the bottom.  Pour into the slow cooker.  Add a healthy extra dose of red wine.
  • Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.  Reduce to low heat, and cook for another 6 hours or so, or until the meat is tender enough for your discriminating taste.
  • 15 minutes prior to serving, mix up a little bit of flour and hot water, and stir it into the stew to thicken it up a bit.  Around 2 tablespoons of flour to a quarter cup of water should do.

Beav, it’s what’s for dinner!

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