I grew up wanting to be a mountain man. As training, I spent much of my youth cooking various sorts of wild meat over a fire. While I never managed to fulfill my youthful fantasy (I was born about 150 years too late) I developed a skill set that serves me handily as a back country big game hunter. Here are a few cool and interesting meals to keep you busy and well fed in the woods or mountains. I call it caveman cuisine.
1) Beaver Tail
That’s right, the tail of a beaver. Historians often cite this meal as a mountain man favorite, but it took me years to figure out what exactly they did with it. Turns out that it’s pretty simple. Poke a hole in the end of a beaver tail and slip in the end of a green, thumb-sized skewer about as long as your arm. Prop the tail close to the flames of a fire, but not touching the flames, and gently roast it until the skin of the tail bubbles up and turns crispy. Peel the skin away and you’ll be shocked by what you find. The inside is like beef fat and gristle, snow white. It might not be the best meal to serve to your mother-in-law, but when you’re calorie starved in the wild it is mighty satisfying.
“If this seems too far out, consider that the finest French restaurants serve marrow bones on their menus.” – Steven Rinella
2) Bone Marrow
It’s been proposed by anthropologists that early humans probably scavenged the remains from kills left over by lions, wolves, and saber-toothed cats. It seems that they specialized in extracting the marrow from femurs. Try this once and you’ll see why. Bury the femur from an elk, moose, or caribou (whitetails are a bit too small, but can still be worth the effort) in the coals of a fire and let it roast for ten or fifteen minutes. Pull it out and give it a smack with a rock or hatchet, careful not to shatter it too violently. Pull out the slugs of marrow and sprinkle with a bit of salt. If this seems too far out, consider that the finest French restaurants serve marrow bones on their menus.
For a group meal, roast up a rack of ribs. I learned this trick from a Dall sheep guide named Lance Kronberger. Start by building a three-walled, open-topped box with river cobbles or boulders. Make it about the size of a big microwave oven. Start a fire inside the box and let it cook down to a thick bed of coals. Now take a rib rack of a deer, sheep, or whatever and place it like a lid on the box. Flip it every five or six minutes and add wood as needed to keep things very hot. Cook it until its dripping fat and getting nice and charred. Then you and your buddies can stand around and start slicing off ribs and meat. Have a little Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on hand if you want it to be really good.
About the Author:
Steven Rinella is the author of five books about wildlife and hunting. He hosts the MeatEater TV show and the MeatEater Podcast. Find him at themeateater.com.