Other Names:Marsh hare, marsh rabbit, mud beaver, mud cat, musquash or ondatra (Native American).
General Description:Muskrat (Ondatra zibethica) is trapped for both its dark brown fur and its flavorful meat. The muskrat is the largest of the voles, a North American family of mouselike rodents. Muskrats live in swamps, marshes, and wetlands from northern North America as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican border. Although not widely perceived as a source of meat (it is trapped for its dark brown fur), if properly cleaned, muskrat is one of the most tender and flavorful of all wild meats. Toledo, Ohio, is the center of a large muskrat trapping and eating area, and “muskrat suppers” are held in the winter, sponsored by churches and volunteer fire departments to raise money. Muskrats may be cooked using rabbit or chicken recipes and are good fried, barbecued, spit-roasted, and braised.
Characteristics:Muskrat meat is tasty, fine-grained, and tender.
Amount to Buy:One muskrat will serve two people; allow 1 pound per portion.
How to Choose:An adult muskrat is about 15 inches long and weighs 2 pounds. Muskrats are sold from January through March in some parts of America.
Storage:Store muskrat 1 to 2 days refrigerated.
- Skin and clean the muskrat, removing all fat, the two musk glands near the base of the tail, and the white tissue inside each leg.
- Soak the muskrat overnight in a brine solution of 1 tablespoon salt to 1 quart water.
- Drain, cut up the muskrat into serving pieces, and pat dry. Dust the pieces in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven, add the muskrat pieces, and brown slowly over medium heat.
- Cover with sliced onions and sour cream, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, cover, and simmer 1 to 2 hours, or until tender.
Flavor Affinities:Apples, bacon, brown sugar, cabbage, cayenne, lemons, mustard, potatoes, red wine, salt pork, vinegar.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com