My friend Dan dropped off two frozen, cleaned, and skinned beavers that he had trapped. I asked for them. Once the critters had thawed, I lugged them out into the backyard and just kind of looked at them for a while. I was intimidated, a little. There's not much information on the internet about what to do with a raw beaver and I'm not exactly a trained butcher. Insert liquid courage. I had a drink and then went back outside.
We usually drink a bottle of sparkling wine on Sunday, I just started early last weekend. I love Cava (that's sparkling wine from Spain) and it's good value. Spain has been making Cava for a long time; they are good at it. This was a nice Sunday afternoon kind of drink. Light and crisp with a fine mousse, fresh apple and pear on the nose with a citrus finish ($13.95). This bottle is from a Vintages release some time ago, so there probably isn't much left out there, but that's okay, there is still lots of Cava to choose from.
Fortified, I picked up the cleaver and went to it. I must say though, while I was in the backyard hacking the beaver into manageable pieces I tried not to think of the bucolic morning I spent sitting at the lake last summer, sipping my coffee amidst the soothing sounds of nature as I watched a beaver work its way across the lake with a log in its jaw. Sorry beaver.
Then I turned it into beaver rillets. I decided to put the meat in a brine overnight. Ater the brining process I skinned and confited the meat in olive oil in a very slow oven for about eight hours. I then allowed the meat to cool and rest for another day (in the oil) afterwhich I pulled all the meat off the bones and beat it into a mixure of butter, dried cranberries, white wine and garlic. You can do this with duck if you feel so inclined. The rillettes have a rich, almost sweet flavour. We'll be spreading that on toast and having a little... mulled wine? ice wine? Amarone? Off-dry Riesling?
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By Shannon Dew