With the end of spring approaching fast across the West, I have one thought that still remains strong: bears! The more I hunt bears and talk about hunting bears, the more it is brought to my attention that it is a sorely uneducated topic. Not in terms of the hunting part really, but in terms of consumption. I am constantly surprised by how many people out there who are hunters and don't know that you can eat bears. Not only that, but they are unaware of how delicious they are! So, in light of that, I have put together three simple recipes that will surely change your mind if you've ever questioned the validity of bear meat.
Who doesn't love a good chili? I know I do. I am probably partial, because of my Arizona residency and my obvious love for Mexican food, but that is neither here nor there. You can serve this enchilada style or just straight from a bowl. This is a recipe taken straight from my dad. He acquired this through an old friend in New Mexico. The only difference is that I have swapped beef with bear meat. Since I was a child, this recipe has been in constant rotation in my family's kitchen. I highly suggest that you take this for a spin.
Clean pods and put in blender with seeds. Add warm water and soak for 20 minutes. Once that is done, add in your garlic cloves and blend.
Brown your bear meat and then add that to the stock pot.
Once your meat is sitting in your pot, add in the rest of the ingredients. Add water until the pot is about three-quarters of the way filled. Mix everything together thoroughly.
Bring this to a boil, stirring constantly.
Once it reaches a boil, turn your temperature down and simmer with a lid on for one hour, followed by another hour without a lid. Make sure to stir occasionally. In the words of my dad, "Now you have a masterpiece."
Nothing beats coming home from a long day at work or even an exhausting hunt and having a good burger. I've never met someone that didn't like this ever so popular serving. They are easy to make, delicious, and just downright hit the spot. Serve them at sporting events or a relaxed evening at home. It doesn't matter. This was inspired by me watching my dad make meatballs when I was a youngster. I just decided to make it into a burger, rather than a meatball. Make sure to cook this well done as you should do with all bear meat.
Add in a generous amount of hamburger seasoning and parmesan cheese on top of your ground meat. I generally throw enough on to cover the whole top completely. From here, you are going to want to knead the seasoning into the meat until it is combined evenly. If there looks like there isn't enough, add more seasoning or cheese as you go through and knead.
I like to use a scale after this to break the meat up into quarter-pound patties. If you want them bigger, that is fine. There are no rules here!
Whether you cook this on a grill or in a pan, that is entirely up to you. Personally, I like the burger better on the grill. Whichever way you choose, make sure you cook the burger until it is well done. I will cook the patty until the inside temp reaches 170 degrees. You don't want to risk getting trichinosis.
Add whatever fixings you would like and enjoy! I like cheese, avocado, lettuce, red onion and a bit of honey BBQ sauce!
This is a super versatile recipe that you can go a few different ways with. I have it labeled as a BBQ-flavored recipe, but you can incorporate any type of seasonings to do your own thing with it. For example, this would work fantastic for making a taco or burrito dish. My mom actually made tamales for Christmas out of this last year. They turned out phenomenal. The main thing is to break that meat down to the point that it will easily shred apart. Personally, I do this in the crockpot. Set it and forget it. From there, the world (or bear) is at your fingertips.
Chop up all of your peppers and onion. I like to do the peppers in long strands and the same with the onion.
Place your bear roast in the crockpot and add in all of your peppers, onions, and broth. Feel free to add in any additional seasoning you might like as well. Place the lid on.
Set the crockpot to high and enjoy your day. I will let this cook for eight to nine hours until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. Use your temperature gauge to probe the meat. At that point, the meat will shred apart easily. You can do this with a fork or you can actually purchase claws specifically for this purpose.
Once the roast reaches the right temperature, remove it from the pot and place it on a tray to shred it up. Once that is done, try to get all of the peppers and onions out of the pot and drain the broth out into the sink. Put the meat and peppers/onions back in the pot and add in your favorite BBQ sauce. I like honey BBQ. Stir this up as you add the sauce and until you can see that it covers all of the shredded meat evenly.
Throw this on a bun, in a tortilla, or just on a plate with nothing, and enjoy!
Time to eat!
If you are one of the people out there who has thought bear meat was inedible, I really hope you consider giving them another shot. There are a lot of misconceptions out there on the internet, but they are just that. When prepared properly, bear meat is some of the best out there. I've actually talked to folks here that prefer it over elk! That is a bold statement but definitely says something. Do yourself a favor and form your own opinion. Man, I am hungry now!
3 lbs ground bear meat
12 to 14 red chili pods
25 chili pod seeds
3 garlic cloves (diced)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons butter
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 cup onion
6-quart stock pot
2 lbs ground bear meat (makes eight quarter-pounders)
Your favorite hamburger seasoning
2 to 3 lb. bear roast
1 yellow onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 box of vegetable or beef broth
Your favorite BBQ sauce