Grandmother wasted nothing. Grandfather said, “It was the Scotch in her.” My childhood home was six doors from my grandmother’s house. I never had a meal at her home that didn't leave me licking my lips. I remember sitting in her kitchen watching her take the celery leaves from the top of the stalks and chopping the leaves to add to this meatball recipe. The resulting meal is what became known in my own adult house as Granny Burgers.
Picture this: you’re perched atop a granite slab five miles from the nearest paved road and there isn’t another soul in sight besides one of your closest compadres sitting a few rocks over from you, glassing the same drainage you are. You guys aren’t talking a lot besides the occasional mumble about the landscape and wildlife in front of you.
During a recent interview with a senior carnivore specialist responsible for bears, he said it was my fault that bear hunters and bear hunting harvests had increased by 50% in the last decade or so in the jurisdiction he oversaw. It was not an attack. He observed that bear meat on the table has become much more popular over the previous decade, and it was guys like me who made it so. We share delicious bear meat. We share recipes and methods. Guests come back for seconds.

“Kuma Niku” is Japanese for Bear meat
Katsu is essentially a ”breaded cutlet” that is fried and served with rice and shredded cabbage.
In this traditional Japanese recipe I am simply using bear instead of pork or chicken. But any wild game would be a delicious substitute.
Both Thanksgiving and Christmas deserve celebrating. Families of hunters get the bonus of adding game to special holiday menus. A traditional French Canadian centre-of-the-plate item is the classic meat pie: Tourtiere. This one is made with bear meat and the pastry is made with bear fat: a double whammy of celebratory goodness from the boreal forest.

Sometimes your kid gets what they want.

As I held the forepaw of my youngest son's 2021 spring black bear for skinning, he said, “why don’t we make the whole bear into charcuterie? I need some ingredients and love Chorizo, Tasso ham, confit, and smoked bear shanks. I want to make baked beans, Cassoulet and Jambalaya.”
Braising will turn tough as tennis balls bear shoulder or moose shanks into the most delicious center-of-the-plate entrées fit for your best friends and close family, even if they are royalty.

Canning Bear Meat

Pressure canning is a perfect solution for preserving meat.

I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious the canned meat was on our last hunting trip. I emptied the contents of a jar into a carbon steel fry pan over the blazing blue flame of the Coleman 425. As soon as the meat was heated through and the juice evaporated down to a thin gravy, I dished it into bowls, added a thick slice of buttered homemade sourdough and handed it over. I can report it was delicious. Peter, my hunting partner recommended I just eat it plain. He knows first-hand how much I like to mess with stuff. “Just taste the game before you get fancy” was his advice. The just-canned recipe was delicious, but the possibilities for fancy are nearly endless. You can can anything from bears to moose and rabbits to squirrels––using pretty much the same process. - Tim Fowler | @timothydfowler -