The dinner I created with the porcupine we bagged the other night (see Night Hunt) turned out pretty well.
I find that for me, the key to porcupine cooking is simplicity. Thankfully, our porcupine encounters are rare enough that I’m not very proficient at skinning and butchering them; unfortunately, that means that each time I do it requires a lot of time and hard work. By the time I’m done, the preceding process, and the urgency of getting the fresh meat cooked quickly discourages long, involved recipes.
Pulled Porcupine turns out to be a tasty answer to this issue.
After cutting up the porcupine into smaller chunks and meticulously picking out any hair or quills, I browned it in some oil in the bottom of our larger pressure cooker. I added a cup of cider vinegar (apparently, vinegar dissolves quills on its own; pressure cooking in it ought to really nuke them!) and a cup of red wine (why not?).
I followed the pressure cooker’s directions for cooking pork. The similarity in names is just a happy coincidence. The real issue is killing any parasites. I don’t know what a porcupine might be infested with, but pork, a common carrier of trichinosis, gets longer cooking times than most other meats, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong.
For this pressure cooker, that worked out to 30 minutes on high steam. I then let it cook till I could handle the meat, and deboned it. The meat fell from the bones perfectly. Donning my reading glasses, I picked once more through the meat for hair, and placed the cleaned pieces in a casserole dish. I then poured the broth from the cooker over it. I covered everything with barbecue sauce, and put it in the oven with the butternut squash jojos, at 350-400°. It heated for about half an hour; the broth boiled well by the time we pulled it out to eat.
Michelle said she couldn’t tell it from pulled pork. I was a little less enthusiastic, being heartily sick of the animal by that time, but it did taste pretty good.
I considered making my own barbecue sauce, but we had a big bottle of KC Masterpiece that’s been around for years, barely used. I decided to use that as much as possible. Next time I’ll whip some up from my own recipe.
Even with the barbecue sauce, the meat dish is basic enough that we can adapt leftovers to any number of recipes. The next night, I made it into a kind of throw together dish reminiscent of my mother’s beef stroganoff, which we served over pasta. I found I’d regained my appetite for porcupine by then . . . .
As a meal, I liked my last effort, Porcupine Pie, better; but Pulled Porcupine requires far less work, and the leftovers are very versatile. I’ll have to remember it next time we intercept a garden raider.