Some states and provinces require hunters to salvage bear meat, others do not. Regardless of the law, black bear meat is among the best of all wild game. The bear I killed in “The Task Master,” (page 50) was delicious, as was the meat from my previous two bears, taken in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Whether legally required, I encourage you to butcher and eat every black bear you shoot.
Field-dress your bear as you would other game: Skin the animal quickly and remove the meat. Cut off the legs whole, leaving the bone in, and bone-out the rest of the meat. Remove as much fat as possible. Bag the meat in lightweight, fly-proof bags, and hang it for quick cooling.
My favorite recipe is simple: Take a large roast, say half a ham, weighing from 5 to 10 pounds, and marinate it overnight in a mixture of 6 T. olive oil, 4 T. cider vinegar, 6 T. brown sugar, 4 T. lemon juice, 3 tsp. garlic, 3 tsp. mustard powder. Then cook it for 5-7 hours over charcoal in an enclosed barbecue. The roast will turn black as coal, but the inside will be pink and moist. Serve it for dinner, and slice the rest for lunchmeat. Delicious!
As a variation, smoke the roast for a couple of hours in a smoker like the Luhr Jensen Big Chief. Then cover the roast with aluminum foil in a pan and cook it in the oven at 300 degrees for 3-5 hours, depending on the size of the roast. For a different flavor, slather the roast with barbecue sauce before cooking. Or marinate it in teriyaki sauce.
Author/chef George Erdosh offers additional insights and recipes:
BEAR STROGANOFF (serves four)
- 1 lb. lean bear meat, cut into bite-size cubes
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large (8 oz.) yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced thick
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon beef bouillon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1 cup sour cream
1. Dry meat cubes well with paper towel.
2. Heat a large heavy fry pan over high heat until beginning to smoke, add 2 tablespoons of oil and spread over pan. Add meat a few pieces at a time to avoid cooling the pan and keep stirring vigorously. When all meat is browned, remove from pan and set aside.
3. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining oil, and sauté onion until beginning to soften. Add garlic and heat for another minute while stirring, then raise heat to high, add mushrooms, and stir to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Stir in meat (including liquid it released on standing), water, bouillon, salt, pepper, and dry mustard. Cover pan, reduce heat and simmer slowly for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring from time to time and replacing lost liquid.
5. When meat is tender, stir some of the liquid from the pan into sour cream to make a smooth paste. Stir this into the stroganoff, heat, and serve over noodles or rice.
BEAR KEBOB IN ASIAN MARINADE (serves four)
- 1 lb. tender, lean bear meat, cut into bite-size cubes
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup bourbon or brandy
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
1. Prepare marinade by combining all ingredients in a jar and shaking well until brown sugar is dissolved. Immerse bear meat in marinade in a non-reactive bowl (glass, stainless steel, or china) and let stand in refrigerator for four to five hours.
2. Remove ribs from peppers, cut peppers into squares the width of two fingers.
3. Drain meat and string on skewers, alternating meat, red pepper square, meat, green pepper square, until all meat is on skewers.
4. Grill over hot coals or under broiler until brown, about five minutes per side, turning skewers once.