We are so fortunate to live in a place where there is abundant game. No joke, this is something I thank God for every day, and twice or three times when I go to the grocery store and look at the price of the crummy beef, let alone the higher quality stuff.
It also helps to have a dedicated hunter in the family.
When I first saw this photo I thought he was goofing around, but it turns out he was hunting overlapping seasons. I won’t lie. He’s quite studly and I have a huge crush on him.
So do some of the neighborhood girls. ;-)
Enough about the man though, this post is about a different beast.
When I tell people we eat bear, I get a range of responses.
I could never eat bear, you can tell they have a soul by looking in their eyes. Although I don’t think she ever actually looked a bear in the eye.
Ewww, do you like it? It’s so (insert adjective, greasy, pungent, stinky, …)
Wow, I’d love to get your recipe!
First I’ll give you some background on our local bear population. We live in a very bear friendly country. Apple Country. Actually these days its really more pear or cherry or wine country as more and more farmers are pulling out their apples in favor of more lucrative crops. But you get my drift. Lots of low hanging fruit. We also have plenty of wild fruit such as elderberries, service berries, and choke cherries. In the summer it is very easy to pick out a berry bush that has had a bear foraging in it.
In fact there is no shortage of bear sign, from tracks, to scat, to mauled branches, it’s obvious we have a healthy bear population.
Despite all the sign, it’s very easy to forget we live in bear country. Unlike some of our neighboring communities, we have never had our garbage raided, never had one in our camp, never seen a bear when we weren’t specifically looking for one. The raccoons give us more trouble than the bears ever do. They just don’t need to venture into our neighborhood because there is plenty for them to eat in the hills and orchards. I suppose they also eat small critters and fish sometimes too, but with such abundant fruit, they can pretty well rely on easier meals.
Fruit eating bears are mild-flavored bears. I have no experience cooking or eating bears from areas where they mostly eat fish. From everything I’ve heard, if you’ve had bear that tasted “pungent” it was probably a fish eater.
We usually have our bears processed into jerky, German sausage and summer sausage, but we also have a bunch cut into roasts. My absolute favorite way to eat bear is as a pot roast.
I cook it the same way I would a beef or pork roast.
Pop it in the crock pot and give it a generous coat of minced garlic or garlic powder, and black pepper.
Toss in some coarsely chopped onion and one or two bay leaves. You don’t need to add any liquid.
Put the lid on and cook it on low for around 4- 6 hours. More won’t hurt, but you’ll want to baste it if you go much past 6.
Chop a couple potatos and carrot, or whatever veggies you like, and add those for the last hour of cooking.
Really that’s it! It’s tender and juicy, and as good as any roast beef I’ve ever had.
Leftovers (which we rarely have) make awesome sandwiches, or stews.