By Timothy Fowler
My freezers are full; I have three.
Last spring when I put the tag on my third bear (two in Alberta, the last one in Saskatchewan), I needed a way to preserve my bear while simultaneously conserving freezer space for the anticipated mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and moose I had tags for. That, in addition to a few migratory and upland birds, rabbits, lake trout, pike, and the custom cut beef my boys and I agreed to split in February this year.
My solution was to can the front end of my freshly harvested bear. I had a neatly lined up row of quart glass jars of this canned black bear that had been whispering to me from my basement pantry shelf to experiment with. So this last month, I have been trying out some new recipes.
Here is my favorite to date.
The trick to this recipe is to char the jalapenos over an open flame. I am lucky enough to have a gas stove that allows this to happen in the comfort of my kitchen. You can do the same on your gas stove. Or if you cook with electricity, use the flame on your barbeque, Coleman stove, or propane-powered soldering torch and the careful use of a metal skewer. Once the pepper’s skin is charred black, put the hot peppers in a tight-lidded container or zip lock bag to steam for a few minutes. The black skin just slips or scrapes off. I recommend the use of disposable gloves to keep the pepper away from your hands and eyes. This is a simple dish that takes less than half an hour to put together.
Black Bear with Jalapenos
- Dishwasher safe cutting board
- Cast iron skillet
- Wooden spoon
- Chef’s knife
- Various bowls to hold prepped ingredients
- Paring knife
- Disposable gloves
- Olive oil
- A quart of canned bear, juice and all
- 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, charred, steamed, skinned, and diced
- 1 medium red onion, skinned and sliced thinly
- 4 cups of sliced brown mushrooms
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 3 green onions, tipped and sliced
- 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
- Olive oil for frying (your preferred amount)
- Coarse salt and coarse pepper to taste
- Pappardelle noodles to serve the bear on (or your choice of starch)
- Char and dice the jalapenos.
- Prep the other vegetables, garlic, and herbs.
- Heat the skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add oil to the pan and sauté mushrooms and red onion.
- When the mushrooms are well browned and the red onions translucent, add the garlic and green onions and sauté for two minutes.
- Empty the jar of bear, juice and all, into the skillet and increase the heat to high.
- Stir well and watch closely. Cook the bear until the juice has boiled off and the bear mixture is as thick as you please.
- Add the thyme; taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve over freshly cooked noodles—my favorite is pappardelle for this dish—but suit yourself.
The family was really pleased with this dish, and frankly, I was surprised by how good it tasted. This dish would be easy to put together at hunt camp, too. Halfway through the plate of bear, my wife, Kate, said, “You know, this would be good made with ancho chili and served in a warm, homemade tortilla.”
Now, there is another good idea!