She likes it!

I like it. I actually like it. I ate black bear and I liked it!

Last weekend, Hunter cooked up bear ribs for me. At my request, he kept it simple. He pulled out his trusty pressure cooker (he's a big fan of pressure cooking), put the ribs in and let them cook for about 15 minutes. He then took them out and finished them on the grill, dousing them with some barbecue sauce. 

What a revelation! The meat was sweet and tender and wasn't gamey or fishy in the least bit. It was downright delicious. 

So now I'm pretty excited about working on the rest of the bear in my freezer. I have 20lbs packaged that I'm going to turn into sausage with Hunter's monster meat grinder. When shopping for it, Hunter picked the grinder he wanted and then bought the next model up. The thing is massive, heavy, loud and will probably grind a tree trunk if you let it. That 20lbs will be done in a matter of minutes. Grinding it will be the easy part.

It's the spicing and casing occupies my thoughts these days. Sausage reminds me of grandfather, Earl. Grandpa knew his sausage. Every time he came to visit, he arrived with a suitcase full of sausage and cooked cheese brought straight from his favourite butcher in Tavistock, Ontario. I couldn't get enough of the smoked sausage he brought; it was the right mix of pork and fat, the spices were simple, quietly enhancing the pork flavour, and the casings gave a satisfying pop when you bit into them. 

I wonder if I called grandpa's butcher if they'd tell me how they make the stuff? I bet I could adapt that to bear. 

Of course, I'm going to have to teach myself how to get sausage into casings. It looks tricky. I have casings in the pantry that I bought last year and I really want to get some of that ground meat cased and onto the smoker. 

Serendipitously, one of my favourite food Web sites, Food52, ran an article on curing and smoking bacon at home. The timing couldn't have been better. The instructions are quite easy to follow and only a few small modifications will be needed for bear meat. (Always, you want to cook bear to a temperature above 160 degrees to kill trichinosis.) Next week, I'm going to cure and smoke me some bear bacon. I shouldn't be this excited about the whole endeavor, but I am. I plan to make some homemade french baguettes and gorge myself on BLTs. I can hardly wait! 

Hunter didn't bring home bear fat, so my plan to make cinnamon rolls are scrapped for this year. He did bring home a bear hide that he's hiding in his bait freezer. We're going to have to have a chat about what he plans to do with that. 

So, there's my Alaskatarian homework for next week: call my Uncle, get the name of Grandpa's butcher and beg and plead them for tips on making sausage; start curing bear for bacon; and make a few practice baguettes. 

Should be a good week.

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