A successful bear hunt allows us to use traditional family recipes to prepare delicious meals. Last year, LG and I hunted black bear with Silver Fox Outfitters in High Level Canada. We had a fun, exciting and rewarding trip. Perched in the trees, LG and I observed several bears before we both connected with mature representations of the species. When friends asked where we’d been and what we’d done, some, who assumed you can’t eat the meat, also asked why we hunt bear.
We hunt for conservation reasons, family bonding time and the aforementioned food. Bear is quite delicious and its moist meat is commonly cooked as a steak, in stews and prepared as summer sausage.
In our family, we also enjoy bear meat in tamales. Hunting can be quality time with your son or daughter, whereas making tamales provides quality time for the entire family and/or friends.
Bear meat tamale recipe
Tamale making is a wonderful social event. It helps to include family and/or friends, so you have an assembly line with at least 1 person each to smear, fill and tie.
Smear masa onto the rough side of the cornhusk. If the husks are too small to roll to form a tamale, use a dab of masa as glue to paste 2 husks together. Take caution as to keep the masa in a thin (approximately 1/8-inch), uniform layer. If the layer it too thick, they become doughy and won’t cook. If the layer is too thin, the tamale meat will dry out and they will fall apart when opened.
Strain out 2 chunks, or a tablespoon of meat, and put it in the center of the masa-smeared husk. Add 1 olive, if desired. Roll to create the tamale. Squeeze in from the ends to plump the center. Then, tie each end with string or husk strip. Stack tamales in a large stockpot (see below) and cook immediately, or refrigerate as you complete to prevent the meat from spoiling. When you finish making tamales, take the rest of the meat and shred it for tacos, machaca or other delicious meal.
Cooking the tamales:
Stack the tamales on a steamer rack, in a brick-type, circular formation, in a large stockpot. Leave the center open to allow room for a damp towel. Add water just below the steamer rack and add damp towels to the center of the pot between the tamales. Cover the tamales with damp towels or cornhusks to seal in the steam. Steam the tamales for approximately 3 hours, checking them often to prevent the pot from steaming dry and burning. Add water as needed. When the tamales are done, the masa will no longer be wet and will peel easily from the cornhusk.
When it’s all done, unwrap your tamale and cover with the leftover sauce. They are great served with beans and rice. Call everyone to the table, say grace and enjoy!
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