Perfect Solution for Tough Bear


It saddens me a bit to admit this, but my spring bear was tough. I like spring bears; I call them lean and clean. Meat from fresh-out-of-the-den bears is neutral tasting. Flesh from these bears has yet to be influenced much by whatever is going to be on the summer and fall menu. And spring bears are lean, but the bear from this spring was tough. Even the loins needed a low, slow, moist heat to make them top-drawer table fare.


Old School, Best School: Duxelles


I decided to employ an old French ingredient called duxelles. Duxelles is a compound of finely diced mushrooms, shallots, and herbs cooked in butter until it is nearly a paste. This combination is a wonderful flavor enhancer to use in the kitchen. What follows is a bear loin, sliced 1/4 of an inch thick, seasoned and stuffed with duxelles, carefully tied with butcher string, seared until all sides are well browned, and then braised with red wine. The result is a tender slice of deliciousness. This recipe is for two people.


Tender Result


The loin took about 20 minutes to prepare and tie. Two and a half hours in a slow oven was perfect but it required a bit of water to be added about halfway through the cooking to keep it from drying out. Use the leftover mushroom-soaking water if you like. This added a lovely bit of flavor to the gravy. The loin was fork-tender, and the combination of earthy mushrooms, fresh herbs, and shallots is a perfect complement to the bear. My wife, Kathy, reported it to be tender and delicious. I served this on barley pilaf cooked in chicken stock with the addition of diced carrots, onions, and celery sauteed for a bit of color. This will become a regular on the menu rotation.





•           Chopsticks or a pair of 1/4” wooden dowels

•           Butcher knife and chef’s knife

•           Cutting board(s)

•           Cotton butcher twine

•           Cast iron (small) dutch oven or covered skillet

•           Stove/oven

•           Food processor

•           Whisk

•           Wooden spoon





•           1-2 pound bear loin trimmed of silver skin and fat

•           A handful of dried forest mushrooms reconstituted in warm water and roughly chopped (these will go in the food processor.) Save the water to add to the roast midway through the cook, if required

•           Low Down and Dirty Rub spice from Hunt Chef or the seasoning of your choice

•           2 shallots finely diced

•           2 tablespoons of duck fat or butter

•           1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, plus a few sprigs for garnish

•           Two or three rye bread crusts roughly chopped

•           1 cup of red wine (or bear or beef stock)

•           1/2 cup of whipping cream

•           Coarse salt and pepper




1.        Cover dried mushrooms with warm water to reconstitute them while you complete the rest of the preparation.

2.        Rinse the bear loin with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

3.        Carefully remove any remaining silver skin and fat with a knife.

4.        Lay the loin between two chopsticks (1/4 inch wide), perpendicular to the ends of the loin (you could use 1/4” dowels too).

5.        Use the knife to slice the loin along the grain while doing your best to maintain an even 1/4” thickness. Rest the knife on the chopsticks as you cut to slice the meat with the grain as consistent a thickness as possible.

6.        When the loin is ‘unrolled’, season with Low Down and Dirty Rub spice by Hunt Chef or your favorite seasoning.

7.        Coarsely chop reconstituted mushrooms and add to the food processor with a chopping blade installed.

8.        Finely chop the shallots and sauté in duck fat or butter over medium heat until translucent.

9.        Finely chop parsley and dice dry rye bread. Then add the parsley, salt and pepper, cooked shallots, and dry rye bread mixture to the mushrooms and process until it forms a soft paste.

10.     Spread this paste evenly over one side of the slab of bear loin meat.

11.     Roll the works up gently, keeping the grain of the meat lengthwise and the paste inside the meat packet.

12.     Tie at 1-1.5” intervals with butcher twine. (See the short video on my Instagram @timothydfowler for a demo on how to do this.)

13.     Sear on all sides in a bit of duck fat or butter in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat until well browned.

14.     Add 1 cup of red wine (or bear or beef stock). Cover and braise in the oven at 325 degrees F for 2-2.5 hours.

15.     Let rest for 30 minutes while you make the sauce.

16.     Add ½ cup of whipping cream and a bit of leftover mushroom water to the cast iron pan and bring to a boil over high heat, stir constantly. Cook to reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

17.     Slice the roast loin, remove the string, and dish up dinner.

18.     Serve over your favorite starch and add your favorite vegetable as a side.


Old-school culinary processes were developed for a good reason. In this case, the duxelles add tremendous flavor, texture, and moisture to perfectly finish this rolled loin. One of the things I enjoy most about hunting, butchering, and cooking my own game is exploring what old processes are new again in the kitchen. We will be serving this to guests at our table soon.