8 things you probably didn’t have for dinner last night

Tired of the same old meatloaf, baked fish or chef’s salad for dinner? How about something different — REALLY different? How about some baked armadillo, deep fried beaver or dove casserole? The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service offers recipes for these and several other meats not usually found at the corner grocery store. The armored armadillo, seen by many as merely a pest, reportedly is very tender and tasty. It can be pan fried, baked or barbecued, garnished with butter and seasonings. Marinate the armadillo in white wine, fry it and cover it with a mustard sauce for an unusual treat for your mother-in-law.

Bear meat, which is compared to pork, should be well done. The extension service recommends the bear’s fat, which can have a strong taste of its own, be removed before cooking. The way the bear tastes depends on what the bear has tasted. A bear that’s been eating berries will have a much different flavor than one that has been feasting on dead meat, according to the extension service. Young bears are the most tender. It is recommended that beavers, which have a red meat, be soaked in saltwater and the fat should again be removed before cooking. Beaver can be substituted for deer meat in most recipes. Beavers can provide a tasty change whether it’s deep fried, cooked in a stew, roasted or barbecued. It is recommended that the flat tail be cooked over an open flame.

The taste of wild birds can be affected by the way they are treated after they’re killed. Birds such as doves should be bled, cleaned and cooled as soon as possible. Try to avoid shot pellets and any area badly damaged by the shot. As with most meat, doves, quail, pheasant and woodcock, can be prepared in a variety of ways — sautéed or baked, over wild rice or in a pasta dish. The chef preparing frogs’ legs for frying are encouraged to wash the legs thoroughly whether the frog has recently been in water or not. The experts at the extension service recommend trapping an opossum and feeding it cereal and milk about 10 days before they are killed and eaten. ’Possums are stuffed, barbecued, roasted, stewed and stuffed.

Apparently the meat of the deer, elk and moose are pretty much interchangeable, whether it is baked, roasted, fried for a hamburger or in a meatloaf. A nice soak in a salt or vinegar solution can help the taste of the muskrat, which can be baked or fried and smothered with onions. In addition to frying and baking rattlesnake, those who want something a little more might try a rattlesnake salad. Each salad calls for a medium sized snake that is boiled with spices until it is tender. Then it’s added to a variety of ingredients similar to those found in potato salad — pickles, mayonnaise, onion and boiled eggs. Raccoons can be baked with southern dressing, covered with salsa or fricasseed. It is recommended that the strong-flavored fat be removed before cooking starts. Yum-yum!