There comes a time in your life, when, if you wish to try something new and exotic you have to go the extra mile. Now, I don’t often take road kill home for the pot, in fact this would be a first. I like to go and shoot/trap my meat this assures me of freshness, a factor that you can only use your nose to rely on when it comes to picking up dead animals from the side of the road. I must stress there are a few “disturbing” pictures in this post of a badger being taken apart for which I do apologise…but then again, this is where my meat comes from, so I would urge you to look on.
Badger meat is something that has come under serious scrutiny over years. Fair enough. I certainly would never shoot one or even speed up the car to take out one of these fantastic bumbling creatures. I am extremely fond of badgers; one of my favourite countryside moments was watching 10 of the black and white beasts rolling around outside their burrows for a good half hour (downwind of course). So this delve into the wild larder was going to be a difficult one, curiosity had the better of me: what can I say?
Despite the stories I had heard that badgers are known carriers of TB and still stand accused of donating it to cows, I continued the rather perverse quest to taste its flesh. After all, I had a TB jab, all be it some time ago…
Whilst looking after my landlord’s animals, morning and night, I noticed something by the roadside that was not there the night before…a badger, probably laid to rest over the last 12 hours, so… fresh.
Passing cars slowed down to witness me sticking the badger in a bag, what they were thinking I have no idea: “Is he going to bury it?” or “Is the bastard going to eat it?”
This badger was going to need some serious cleaning and careful butchery. I decided to take it to the family home to process it and call a man who would know about preparing badger for the pot, so I called Fergus Drennan.
“Have you got a girlfriend? Because it takes about 3 days to get rid of the smell of badger flesh from your hands.” Said the man with the know-how. Luckily Clare was in London for the week.
“You can clean out the intestines and use them for making sausages.” Fergus was clearly a man who had made the most out of his badgers…but for this amateur, I would stick to concentrating on the meat alone.
After various tips from Fergus, I set about doing some badger butchery. Luckily, it was not breeding season, which meant the badger would not smell quite as musky. Still the smell was pretty strong, with the smell factor at the forefront of my mind, I donned the marigolds, pulled the jumper over the nose and got to work.
This was, other than dealing with my Cook Island piggy on shipwrecked, the biggest animal I had processed by hand. Despite the smell and my appreciation for the creature I was dissecting, instinct set in and pretended it was a large rabbit or squirrel. The skin wasn’t too hard to remove but was riddled with ticks, none of which I wanted on me! I was hoping to include it in the rabbit-skin rug. Oh well!
It soon became clear that the vehicle that had caused the badger’s demise had hit the upper body, hence little mess when it came to skinning and gutting. The smell was quite full on all the same.
That evening I had a knees up at Safari Britain: the end of season BBQ, so I thought it would be appropriate to take a long some Badger burgers for the occasion so some of the surrounding country-folk could sample this hard to come by meat.
I couldn’t resist trying a bit of the fillet before turning the meat into burgers, so I treated the red meat as I would a piece of beef fillet, but with a lot more cooking time to be safe. It was absolutely incredible on it’s own, a little seasoning and a bit of time brought out a mix of beef /venison on the palate…very odd, but well worth the effort. Convinced by this triumph, I went a head with the burgers using a straightforward burger recipe:
Meat from one badger (de-boned)
1 Red onion (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp of ketchup
2 Garlic cloves (minced)
1 tsp of Worcester sauce
½ tsp of Tabasco
1 tbsp Mustard
A pinch of salt and pepper
Mince the onion and garlic in a food processor, remove. Then do the same with the badger meat.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and form into patties for the BBQ or pan.
The burgers went down a storm at the BBQ, everyone was well aware of what they were eating and seemed pleasantly surprised at the taste of this novel burger.
The following day I had the pleasure of showcasing my Treehouse larder of wild preserves and brews on UKTV food’s Market kitchen. So, I took along the badger. After all, its not everyday you get to feed Tom Parker-Bowles Badger burgers is it?
There you have it: Road kill Badger. Would I do it again? I think so, perhaps not something I would make a habit of but well worth the culinary plunge. I think there is far too much hullabaloo made of eating strange meats that perhaps shouldn’t be part of the menu, but without variety: life would be dull. There will be naysayers who will no doubt be appalled by the subject of eating badger, but to those of you who point the finger, I will say this: At least I know where my meat comes from. Badger has been eaten for thousands of years in this country, It is certainly nothing new.
If you were to do experiment at home, make sure the meat is well cooked. I dedicate this post to Mr Arthur Boyt, a brave adventurer on the front of wild meat and a fine example of British man, please check out this short film about his choice of meat.