Friday, February 20, 2009

Braised possum and other delicacies

Yesterday Shapely Prose had a long, really funny discussion about food, recipes, Joy of Cooking, and a recent piece of what looks like bad science* blaming obesity on the fact Americans are using more grease and sugar in home cooking -- so much for it's being McDonald's fault -- and then this morning while ambling to work I overheard this intriguing bit of conversation between two fellows on their way to the bus stop: "when she popped the lid off that 5-quart slow cooker and there was that possum curled up looking just like a cooked chihuahua I liked to have died . . . ."

So now I'm wondering. . . do any of the editions of Joy of Cooking cover possum? I've got the 1951 edition -- it does come complete with the squirrel skinning illustration, but no actual recipes for squirrel although there are recipes for rabbit, venison, and some hints on wild game in general. We do have a possum or two ambling around the neighborhood; one shows up on the patio every so often. Would using a slow cooker make possum more edible? And what kind of wine do you serve with possum? I'd assume something made from muscadine grapes, in keeping with Southern traditional food groups, but who knows?

I'm also wondering, of course, just how many cooked chihuahuas that good ol' boy with the really thick hillbilly accent has seen in his time.

[*I'm not sure it's so much bad science as lame science, i.e., a didn't you guys have something better to do with your time? The study, published as a letter in the current issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, compares recipes from different editions of Joy of Cooking and notes that we're using different ingredients now than we did 80 years ago, serving sizes tend to be bigger, and calorie counts are higher. They also note there are cultural reasons for the shifts: more meat going into that hideous hamburger/tomato/macaroni goulash that school lunchrooms have served for millennia, for example, because, adjusting for inflation, beef is cheaper now than it was in 1931. And meat has a higher calorie count than pasta, hence more calories per serving of goulash now than back when my grandmother was cooking it. Bottom line, which tends to fall into the "no shit, Sherlock," category of scientific conclusions, is that Americans are eating better now than they did during the Great Depression.]


  1. West Virginian born and raised - and EWWWWWWW! Amazing what some consider delicacies.


    1 young, fat opossum
    8 sweet potatoes
    2 tbsp. butter
    1 tbsp. sugar

    First, catch a 'possum.

    Skin and clean out opossum

    Be sure to wash 'possum thoroughly. Freeze overnight either outside or in a refrigerator.
    When ready to cook, peel the potatoes and boil them tender in lightly salted water along with the butter and sugar. At the same time, stew the 'possum tender in a tightly covered pan with a little water. Arrange the taters around the 'possum, strip with bacon, sprinkle with thyme or marjoram, or pepper, and brown in the oven. Baste often with the drippings.

    Take Beano before eating.

    Leftover stew oppossum can be fried up for breakfast and served with scrambled eggs and ketchup.


  3. P.S. Chihuahuas were bred to be eaten.

  4. on page 515 of my joy of cooking cook book it not only has a recipe for opossum butg one for squirrel, porcupine, racoon,muskrat, wood chuck and large deer moose or elk...i love my joy of cooking cook has recipes for bear, boar, peccary(what the fuck is a peccary).
    it recommends trapping the opossum first and then feeding it on milk and cereals for 10 days before killing./clean but do not skin. treat as for a pig by immersing the uskinned animal in water just below boilig point. test frequently by plucking at the hair. when it slips out redily, remove the opossum from the water and scrape. while scraping repeatedly, pour cool water over the surface of the animal. remove small red glands in small of the back and under each foreleg between shoulder and ribs. parblanch about 20 minutes each in two or three changes of water, then roast as for pork..or use recipes for rabbit. serve with:turnip greens..
    excuse me..i'm going to go eat a bar of soap to get that nasty taste out of my mouth...eeeewww..

  5. YDG, "remove small red glands in small of the back and under each foreleg between shoulder and ribs."

    Yes, Yes, Yes, them are the "Don't I Smell Dead" glands that lets the critter play possem and get away with it.

    Say maybe you can by the meat over the web already ready for the pot.

  6. We have possums. They better watch it.

  7. I think a peccary is like a javelina, a critter that looks like a small wild pig and travels in packs, but that's a guess. When I see the word "peccary" my mind wants to subsitute "pessary," and that has nothing to do with cooking.

    Lisa, if the economy keeps tanking a lot of us are going to be thinking possum's looking edible.


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