Morbid Curiosity

A Very Special Morbid Curiosity Monday

Usually, I have strict (self-created, self-imposed) rules for the recipes I talk about: they need to be actual published recipes; I need to make them as close to the original directions as possible (with substitutions only on very rare occasions); and I actually need to cook and eat whatever I want to talk about, no matter how unappetizing. Why do I  make rules like this? I don’t know. I guess I’m just a bit of an asshole.

Anyway, this is A Very Special Episode of Morbid Curiosity Monday, because I’m breaking my own rules today. This is because I’ve found a recipe that (barring a Zombie Apocalypse-type situation) I will never, ever, ever, cook or eat: Roast Opossum.

Call me a snob. Remind me of the similarity between this and the recent British squirrel-eating trend. I don’t care. I have a newly minted policy against opossums being anywhere near my face; whether the opossums are alive or cooked in a roasting pan makes no difference.

Granted, the cookbook in question (The American Woman’s Cook Book) had its first printing in 1938, when America was at the tail (ha!) end of the Great Depression. I understand that there were underlying issues of meat scarcity and economic hardship when it was published. But opossums have creepy little hands, so my journalistic objectivity powers will not engage.

Since I never made this dish, I don’t have any photographs of it. Instead I have an “artistic” sketch (by yours truly) of the opossum in its natural habitat:

menacing opossum
Figure 1: This is totally what opossums are like.

And another sketch of how I imagine the completed dish would look:

cooked opossum sketch
Figure 2: I used my artistic license when drawing this. Please don't send me angry emails saying the opossum shouldn't have hair after roasting.

As you can see, I never went to art school. Or cooking school. But, everyone has their boundaries, and Roast Opossum crosses mine while hissing at me in a menacing fashion.

Roast Opossum
The opossum is a very fat animal with a peculiarly flavored meat*. To dress, immerse in very hot water (not boiling) for 1 minute. Remove and use a dull knife to scrape off hair so that skin is not cut. Slit from bottom of throat to hind legs and remove entrails. Remove head and tail if desired**. Wash thoroughly inside and out with hot water. Cover with cold water to which has been added 1 cup of salt and let stand overnight***. Drain off the salted water and rinse with clean, boiling water.

1 large onion minced
1 tablespoon fat
Opossum liver, chopped
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1 hard cooked egg, chopped

Brown the onion in fat. Add liver and cook until liver is tender. Add bread crumbs, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, egg, salt and water to moisten. Stuff opossum and place in roaster; add 2 tablespoons water and roast in moderate oven. Baste every 15 minutes with drippings. Skim fat from pan gravy; serve gravy separately, with baked yams or sweet potatoes for 10.

*I think “peculiar tasting” in this case is a polite term for “gross.”

** “If desired“?!? No, dude. Leave them on.

***We’re just leaving the dead opossum in a bucket of water overnight? No, that’s cool. I won’t get nightmares or anything. I’m sure it won’t rise from its watery coffin to bite my face.

This recipe comes from The American Woman’s Cook Book. This edition was published in 1970 by Garden City Publishing Co., Inc.

By Jen R. L. Disarray

Jen was once described as a "culinary anthropologist". She liked that. When she is not making questionable foods, Jen enjoys reading, sassing, and lurking all over the internet. Jen has a blog called Maybe We Shouldn't Be Eating This, and she is a contributor to the Geekquality podcast and blog.

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