This winter, consider “black bear ham” for Christmas dinner.
Steven Rinella, host of MeatEater, loves his meat. In fact, he loves it so much that when he takes down a black bear, he tries to use as much as he can, even the fat.
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Black bear is very different from most other big game. Because of their biological make-up, bears have an extremely thick layer of fat all over their body. But, as the MeatEater points out, after taking down just one big bear, you can provide yourself with cooking oil (and/or a butter substitute) for an entire winter.
Moreover, once underneath that thick layer of fat, you can find the “choice cut” in the bears “hams.” As MeatEater points out in this video, after seasoning the ham to your liking with a brine, and then smoking it, you end up with something very similar to pig ham, only more wild.
Unfortunately, Rinella contracted trichinosis from eating bear meat that wasn’t cooked well enough, so let that be a warning: even expert wild game preparers like him can make a mistake, and pay for it dearly. Word on the street is he’s going to be fine, but trichinosis isn’t something you want to mess around with.
Admittedly, I have never eaten black bear ham, but after watching this it is definitely on my to-do list. Plus, the major “positive” to taking a bear is the unbelievable amount of meat you have from one kill.
What is your favorite bear recipe? Leave your comments in the comments section below.