The following were found in an Abenaki cookbook.
“I remember as a kid that many families took out their bluetick hounds to hunt raccoon at night. It reduced damage to their crops, but you could sell the tanned hides, and eat the meat. You don’t hear about hunting or eating raccoon anymore but there may be some old Vermonters who still remember this practice.”
— Chief Don Stevens
Pigeon or Dove
5 pigeons or ten doves, cleaned and washed;
1/2 pound of salt pork (or any other salted meat), diced
half of an onion, minced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1-2 potatoes thinly sliced
3 whole cloves; salt and pepper to taste
pastry for double pie crust
Cut fowl in half and place in a large pot with the salt pork. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim the surface and add salt, pepper, cloves, onion and celery. Simmer for twenty minutes.
Remove the birds and add cornstarch to thicken it. Bone the fowl and cut larger into chunks. Line baking dish with pastry and cover bottom with sliced potato.
Add fowl and cover with more potato slices. Pour thickened broth into pie and cover with top.
Slit the crust to allow for steam to escape.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
1/2 pound of game meat, diced
4 large potatoes, diced
2 medium onions, sliced
6 diced carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Add any other vegetables you may wish to thicken the stew
Fry game ‘til brown, add onion and cook ‘til onion is transparent. Add remaining vegetables and season as desired. Cover mixture with water, cook ‘til the vegetables are nice and tender.
This is a good one for hunting camp. You can add any vegetables that are on hand.
You can also keep this stew a-goin’ for a week by adding to it throughout the week. It will get better with age.
The grandfather of a friend had two hunting dogs, named Sport and Bill. Every night they would say the same Grace:
Bless us, Oh lord,
And give us our fill.
But save the scraps
For Sport and Bill.
Don’t forget to thank Creator every time you eat!
2 muskrat, cleaned, skinned and quartered
1/4 cup of flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of ground sage
1 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons of finely chopped wild onion
2 tablespoons of finely chopped celery
Mix the flour with all the seasonings. Coat the muskrat thoroughly with it, then fry in the bacon fat.
Add the 1/2 cup of water and simmer for about five minutes, then add celery and onion.
Cook another 1/2 hour or ‘til done.
You may like to substitute our fiddlehead stew for the water, onion celery blend. Either way, this is a tasty and enjoyable meal, in spite-or maybe because of its “exotic” ingredients.
DO NOT be put off by the word “muskrat,” a muskrat is NOT a rat, but a member of the beaver family. Like the beaver, muskrat are clean, industrious, water-dwelling herbivores; beaver has long been a staple food for Native and White alike.
Duck with Bacon and Onions
7-8 breasts from large ducks
1 1/2 pound bacon, cut into thirds
1 medium onion, cut into rings
Flour mixed with salt and fresh ground pepper
In a large casserole dish, combine bacon and onions. Cover and microwave on high for six minutes, stirring once or twice.
Dust the duck breasts lightly with flour and place over the bacon and onion.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour — the juices must be running clear.
Stir once or twice while cooking.
Remove from oven, cover tightly with foil, shiny side down. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.
When I was on the farm, we would have a goose for Thanksgiving every year. Duck is about the same as goose, only smaller. They both have sweet, dark meat and taste GREAT!
Three squirrels, or two game birds (or chickens)
1 large onion, chopped coarse
2 pounds of fresh tomatoes, chopped coarse
1/4 cup chopped raw bacon
3 quarts water
2 cups diced potato
4 ears of corn, husked
2 cups fresh beans
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut game into serving sized chunks, put in kettle, add water and boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, skimming surface as needed.
Remove the game, de-bone and return to broth.
Add seasoning, vegetables — but not the com — and cook 1 hour.
Add com and cook another 10 minutes.
This stew is best when cooked all it’s even better warmed up the next day.
One young squirrel, cut into pieces
3 slices of bacon
sliced onion to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup beef, chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Rub squirrel bits with salt and pepper and roll in flour.
Chop the bacon medium fine.
Fry the squirrel and bacon together for about 30 minutes.
Add the onion, lemon and broth and cover tightly. Reduce heat, cook slowly for 2 hours.
Just before serving, remove squirrel and make gravy by adding water or milk and flour into the pan.
I have never eaten squirrel, but I’ve talked to people from Tennessee who swear that it’s awful good! Of course, the Grey squirrels down there are bigger than our Vermont Red squirrels.
Three or four young raccoons,
4-6 pounds each
5 tablespoons of salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
8 medium onions – peeled
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
12 bay leaves
Skin, draw and clean the coons soon after killing.
Be careful not to break the brown, bean shaped nodes from under the forelegs and thighs. Breaking them will “skunk” the meat.
Cut the raccoons into pieces. Keep the backs (saddles) and legs for baking. Cook the boney parts in water for broth for making gravy and dressing.
Add a small amount of the seasonings.
Simmer ‘til meat is tender, strain and use ONLY the broth. Sprinkle the backs and legs with salt and pepper, then coat with flour.
Heat the shortening in a heavy skillet; add the meat, browning on all sides. Now place the meat into a roaster pan, add bay leaves and onion, cover and bake in a 350 oven for two hours or until tender
Make gravy by adding flour to the frying pan drippings- 2-3 teaspoons of flour for each cup of liquid.
As the meat is roasting, prepare the stuffing:
3 loaves of day-old bread, crumbled
2 1/2 teaspoons of pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons of powdered sage
4 beaten eggs,
3 ounces of chopped onion
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 cup butter
4 cups of the raccoon broth
Bake the stuffing in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
One 2- to 3-pound rabbit, cleaned and cut up
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/ 4 cup butter
2 large tomatoes, mashed
2 tablespoons fruit juice
2 tablespoons maple sugar firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
Salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice
In a large bowl, sautee onion in butter ‘til tender, add tomato, mix in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Place rabbit meat in a large bowl and pour sauce all over it.
Refrigerate, covered, for two hours.
Start your grill and when coals are ready, place rabbit on the grill.
Cook for about 45 minutes, turning frequently and basting with the marinade.
2 sliced carrots;
1 bouillon cube dissolved into one cup of water
1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed onion juice
Clean, skin and carefully remove the scent gland from the skunk. Then parboil in salted water for 15 minutes.
Drain the water, replace with fresh water and steam the meat for one hour, or ‘til tender. Transfer the skunk meat into a roasting pan, pour the bullion over it, and add sliced carrots and onion juice. Roast uncovered at 375 degrees for two hours.
Not for everyone, but I’ve been assured that, when cleaned properly skunk is a light sweet meat. For the brave of heart!
Three Sisters Stew
1 cup dry beans
1 cup hominy (or substitute whole-kernel corn)
2 cups cubed squash
4 peeled Yukon gold potatoes
1 gallon vegetable stock (homemade or boxed)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon baking sodas
3 tablespoons oil
Cook your dry beans. Add 4 cups of water, beans and baking soda and bring up until its just about to boil reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender. Replenish water as need. Drain and cool.
If hominy is not cooked, add 4 cups of water and hominy, bring to a boil and reduce to a rolling boil and cook until tender. Replenish water as needed. Drain and cool.
Peel and cube your potatoes, add to 1 gallon of vegetable stock, bring to a boil and then reduce to rolling boil. Add fresh chopped thyme and rosemary. Cook until the potatoes have broken down and thickened the vegetable stock. Add water as necessary, until thickened.
Roast cubed squash, season with salt and pepper and toss with oil on a sheet pan at 400 degrees about 15-20 minutes.
When vegetable stock is thickened add roasted squash, beans and hominy. Cook together for 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately or cool down.
Feel free to add any other flavors you want. I like to roast my squash with maple sugar to allow for more caramelization and sweetness to the stew. I also like to add a couple tablespoons of red miso, but this is optional and flavor to how you like it.
Any wild game, venison, moose, duck or even beef will pair nicely with this stew.
Abenaki food security recipe by Chef Jessee Lawyer, courtesy of Chief Don Stevens