The other, other white meat
Unfortunately, we live in a time where a fat guy eating deep-fried swine-gut in the Caribbean is considered entertainment. I’m serious here—there are a half-dozen programs on various networks dedicated to portly fellows traveling to exotic locales and eating supposedly exotic food. Throw in a staged, chamber-of-commerce-approved outdoor “adventure,” and you’ve got the formula for a cable television show.
I recently watched in awe as Chubby McGlutton polished off several different dishes made from the capybara, a gigantic rodent native to Argentina. What shocked me was that this wasn’t really that exotic or unusual. In fact, in the not-so-distant past, my great grandmother perfected a dish that made use of a common pest abundant on her eastern Montana homestead, and like the capybara, it is a member of the rodent family. Of course, I am referring to the marmot, or whistle pig as Granny called them. This recipe is probably the root of a family tradition—never waste beer, ammo, or something potentially edible.
What You’ll Need
1 marmot (the bigger the better) skinned, quartered, and deboned
2 1/2 cans grain beer
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup water
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 large onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, cubed
3 large carrots, chopped
6-8 mushrooms, whole
2 strips bacon, chopped
1 tbsp. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
In a large bowl or marinating pan, combine the buttermilk, one can of beer, and two cloves of garlic. Soak the marmot meat in this mixture. Overnight is recommended, but soaking the meat for a couple of hours will suffice. In a large skillet, cook the chopped bacon until lightly crisped. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan. With the skillet on low heat, add a portion of onions, a pinch of garlic, and the Worcestershire sauce. Once the mixture is aromatic, add the meat and brown lightly on both sides. Once the meat is browned, add the contents of the skillet, one-and-a-half cans of beer, the bacon, and the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker. Set the cooker on low and stir periodically. Once the potatoes and carrots are cooked through, the meal is ready.
Tips & Tricks
Depending upon how the marmot was procured, it might be important to remove any bullet fragments from the flesh. Use only the larger cuts of meat; forgo rib and head sections as they’re not worth the trouble. Feel free to get creative with the marinade, as marmot can be a touch stringy. Buttermilk really works wonders as a tenderizer, and teriyaki, sweet chili sauce, maple syrup, or a host of other things may be added according to one’s tastes. If you’re feeling especially gourmand-ish, drain the stew liquid into a separate bowl and add seasoned flour to turn out some unique gravy, then serve the whole mess over a bed of rice. This recipe also works wonders with rabbit, game birds, and even neck roasts from larger game. Keep it simple, and when your guests ask what kind of meat you used, tell them it’s whistle pig. They’ll just assume it’s some sort of pork. Bon appétit.