Badger stew

A recipe book review today – it is too gorgeously hot to think about cooking, so supper is some barbecued sausages in a bun.

My brother, Ben, whose comments you’ll occasionally see on this blog, lives in Bordeaux, where he is a lecteur at the university. Ben hopelessly outcools me. He’s in a band called Beautiful Lunar Landscape – check out their official site and their MySpace page, where you can listen to some rather good music. You’ll enjoy it, especially if you like things like Jeff Buckley and the Velvet Underground. He appears above, the handsome devil, in an uncharacteristic suit (it was my wedding – I insisted), blowing uncharacteristic bubbles, accompanied by his extremely splendid girlfriend Katie.

Ben’s a foodie too. He asserts that his current aim in life is to consume every part of the pig. Ben – you are in for a shock. I have found a Chinese supermarket which sells the sex organs of the pig. Both varieties.

My birthday present from Ben and Katie (and I’m sorry it’s taken me such a long time to get round to writing this) was an odd little hardback book from France. Les cuisines oubliees, by Annie and Jean-Claude Molinier, is a glorious peculiarity; a book of recipes so old-fashioned or rustic that they’ve fallen out of fashion. I’m afraid it’s only available in French; fortunately, my French unaccountably turned out quite good, so when I read the recipe for Blaireau au sang, I had just enough vocabulary to work out that what I was reading was a recipe for badger in blood, and not a new and exciting plot to overthrow the UK Government.

The book’s full of this stuff. Beaver stew, coypu casserole, something rather dodgy-sounding with a cormorant, roast hedgehog, and a bear’s foot recipe which, say the Moliniers, can be adjusted slightly and applied to any baby elephant’s feet you happen to have hanging around in the fridge. There’s squirrel in a pot (peel and empty your squirrel); fox, which you are meant to leave, skinned, in a river for 72 hours before cooking because, frankly, fox doesn’t taste too great; and a magpie baked in clay.

This is a fantastic book. Sorry, Ben, but I’m unlikely to end up cooking anything from it; that said, it makes great bedtime reading, and is a marvellous tool with which to terrify impressionable French children. I’ll leave you with a translation of the recipe for badger in blood, which almost makes me wish I had a mantrap. (Clicking on the badgers will make them do exactly what you think they’re going to do. Turn the sound up. Today’s post is a multimedia extravaganza.)

To cook one badger you’ll need:

1 badger
1 glass of pig’s blood
1 small glass of armagnac
1 ginger root
1 bottle of dry, sparkling white wine
2 eggs
1 pot of crème fraîche
salt and pepper
500g forest mushrooms OR chestnuts to accompany
100g butter

Eviscerate and skin your badger, and soak it in a fast-flowing river for at least 48 hours. This will help you to de-grease it more easily.

Once the badger is de-greased, cut it into pieces and brown it in a frying pan with butter. When the pieces are golden and stiff, flambée with the armanac, season and add a grated soup-spoon of ginger, fresh if possible.

Pour over the wine, and simmer gently for at least two hours.

At the end of the cooking time, mix the chopped badger liver (cooked beforehand in a little oil), the glass of blood, two egg yolks, a coffee-spoon of ginger and the crème fraîche, and pour into the cooking dish. Serve immediately.

This dish goes well with wild mushrooms or chestnuts.

19 Replies to “Badger stew”

  1. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Crouch End Budgens has run out of badger and pigs blood but I am relatively attracted by the thought of all that armagnac and creme fraiche. Could one substitute pork? If not, what? Pheasant?

  2. I wonder if rabbit might work, though I’m not sure whether it would be attainable in Crouch End.

    Love the dancing badgers, by the way!

  3. For once, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to substitute. It comes from never having actually *tasted* badger, you see.

    My assumption is that the fella will be both gamey and tough, so you might want to look at a bit of stewing venison, leaving out the raging torrent stage. (The raging torrent stage worries me. Surely your badger must be *really* repellent if it doesn’t get eaten by fish while having its soak.)

    Alternatively, you could just make a Poulet Normande, with armagnac, cream and lardons. I suspect it might be rather nicer.

  4. Interesting recipe sounds good. Badger is quite gamey somewhere between venison and beef it lends its self well to being curried. although it does worry me that the dog refused to eat the raw meat when i dropped some on the kitchen floor,he isn’t usually that fussy and includes far more disgusting thing in his list of dietry supplements.

  5. MMM, Thanks for the recipe, I have also tried a similair one for Beaver. It was superb keep up the good work also can anyone help me with Crabs?

  6. Sounds lovely. I’m guessing the pigs blood just acts as a thickener for the sauce (as well as flavouring) so perhaps arrowroot could be substituted instead?

  7. Growing up we regularly enjoyed a badger stew. My mum would set traps in the woods behind our house. I often think back as I survey the meat aisle in my local supermarket. I look forward to moving back to the countryside.

  8. During desert, and just after the host’s daughter jumps up on the table to hike her skirt up and urinate in an empty wine bottle, the badger grease can be distributed to everyone as a personal lubricant.

    You Brits sure are colorful.

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