Cooking with Bear
General Rules: There are a lot of variables dependenton the age of bear you're cooking. Be sure to remove as much fat as possible. The meat must be marinated a minimum of 2 days to a maximum of 5 days. Bear will take on the flavor of the marinade. Bear meat is very hearty, so don't overeat. It's also gaseous, so don't serve with baked beans or onions, etc. There is no danger of ptomaine poisoning if the meat has been frozen 30 days or more. If you're serving bear to guests, have alternate menu ready as there are many people who won't "imbear".
Suggested Marinade: Quantity depends on amount of bear being cooked. Plenty of finely sliced garlic coarse ground pepper salt vinegar apple juice and/or sweet or hard cider sliced apples (optional) horseradish (optional) red wine or pink champagne herbs and seasonings to taste (the stronger the better) Mix all ingredients and soak meat 2 to 5 days, turning every 12 hours. If marinating large amount, put meat and marinade in plastic bag for easier turning. Keep refrigerated throughout process. Bear Stew: Marinate meat for 2 days. Then simmer meat in marinade for 10 to 20 minutes. Drain and wash meat in warm water, then cook as you would any beef stew. Bear Mincemeat: Is delicious. Follow your favorite mincemeat recipe. Let everything sit overnight in cool place. Then skim excess fat and bring to boil again before putting in jars. (See favorite mincemeat recipe for processing.) Baked Bear Steaks: After marinating 2 to 3 days, drain marinade. Add salt, pepper and garlic slices. Pile steaks on top of each other with a layer of brown paper bag between each steak. Wrap the whole works in tinfoil; place in pan. Cook slowly in a moderate oven until tender (about 2 to 3 hours). Check for tenderness after 2 hours as overdone bear is tough!
Pit Roasted Bear (The Best): Dig a pit so the total depth is enough to include 2 feet of coals, ample room for the bear and a foot to 2 feet of dirt on top. (We roasted 50 pounds of bear in a pit 3 feet long x 2 1/2 feet wide x 4-feet deep, lining the bottom with stones (optional). Digging the pit is the hardest part and collecting enough wood of one kind (old apple wood preferred). Do these things well in advance of roast day. Marinate defatted bear for 4 to 5 days, turning meat every 12 hours. Day of roast, start fire 3 to 4 hours in advance of cooking to build up 2 to 3 feet of red hot coals. Bear Wrapping: This should be done about 1/2 hour before coals are ready! Wrap bear (better to make 5 to 10 pound packages, then you can keep meat warm upon removal from pit) in one layer of tinfoil and a double layer of burlap (old grain bags are good). Wrap with wire securely. Soak burlapped bear packages in water 10 to 15 minutes. When 2 feet of coals are red hot, put soaked bundles directly on coals and cover with 1 to 1 1/2 feet of dirt, so no steam escapes. (Can put a layer of corrugated tin on top of bear before digging on dirt, makes for easier removal of dirt.) Sit back and relax while your bear cooks for 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Periodically check pit to be sure there is no steam escaping. Dig out your dinner. Implements needed: shovels, work gloves, wire cutters, large cutting board table, sharp carving knife. Serve sliced bear on bulky rolls with condiments, chips and light salad.
Suggested Bear Condiments: Apple chutney (see Fanny Farmer) Wild Pepper Root Sauce: Mix 2 tablespoons ground wild pepper root (horseradish may be substituted) to 1 pint sourcream. Mix and chill. This is also a great tangy dip! Blueberry jam, Apple/mint jelly, Mustards and Relishes.
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