April 5, 2013

groundhog, with green beans

Here it is, the recipe you've all been waiting for:  how to serve groundhog.  And now that I'm an expert (this is my second time and all), I am armed with just the information you'll need.

But let's back up a little.

It has been my Farmer's dream, ever since our pre-marriage days, to roast a groundhog.  He and a friend cherished hopes of doing one on a spit to celebrate the last day of bachelorhood before his wedding.  So it's not as if I'd never heard him talk about eating groundhog.

I just never imagined that he was serious.

But then he started farming - garden vegetables, a groundhog's favorite buffet - and Mr. Groundhog became Public Enemy No. 1 (just behind Bambi, if you must know).  Wherever there are organic vegetables, there are appreciative consumers, and the four-legged ones are at least as eager to sample the wares as the two-legged ones.  In the absence of impediments, they usually overindulge:  having neither conscience nor sense of moderation, they'll happily nibble down an entire young planting of strawberries or broccoli or unripe melons.

Enter the Hav-A-Heart trap.  Groundhogs, despite having elevated tastes in vegetables, are none too gifted in strategy, and the sight of a lone tomato in an empty wire cage arouses no suspicions.  (For that matter, an empty cage alone is sometimes lure enough.)  The problem is that, having trapped them with such a big heart, are you then going to release them for someone else to deal with?

It didn't take my Farmer long to put two and two together.  Dream of roast groundhog + groundhog nuisance to livelihood = fulfilment of the ultimate in masculine accomplishments.

And so, one day last summer, he brought me home a groundhog.*

I was not as charmed as perhaps he had hoped.  I absented myself from the butchering.  Likewise from the slow roasting and the removal of the meat from the bones.  But, when my gallant Farmer, bringer-home-of-the-bacon and provider-of-the-meat, asked me to please make supper with it .....

.... I gulped and said yes.

I don't remember which of us came up with the idea of BBQ.  I tried to pretend it was beef, and when it was all arranged on buns, cheese melting prettily on top, it really looked the part.  Except that I knew.

The children loved it!  (they had begged for bits to taste during the "removal of meat from the bones" stage)  My Farmer was pleased.  I silently awarded myself "Wife of the Year", ate my sandwich somehow, and survived.

And now I have just done it all over again, tonight.  The scary thing is .... this time I almost enjoyed it.  Shhh, don't tell anyone.  I don't think I want to be known for eating groundhog.

Then again, I might not have a choice.  As we polished off our "garden beef" BBQ tonight, my Farmer told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that he'd checked the trap again today, but it was empty.

There can only be so many groundhogs out there, right???

So, on the off chance that you are ever presented with groundhog meat, here is what I recommend you do with it, after stiffening your spine and bracing yourself to jump the necessary mental hurdles:

Sauce for Groundhog  (one hog yields about 3 cups meat)
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup apricot jam
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash of cayenne
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T Worchestershire
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 T brown sugar (I may omit this next time; the sauce was sweeter than I like)
1 T vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing well.  Chop groundhog meat finely, and stir into the sauce.  Simmer a half hour or longer, covered or uncovered, depending on how much liquid you want in your sandwich.  Toast the insides of the buns, spoon the meat onto the bottom halves, top with muenster cheese and broil.  Add the bun tops and serve hot, with green beans on the side.

* (For non-locals, the correct grammatical construction here is:  "he brought home a groundhog for me."  Consider this your unsolicited introduction to Pennsylvania Dutch-influenced grammar.)

linking up with Ann Kroeker at:

also sharing the story on Tell Me A True Story


  1. Oh my, I loved your story, but I am not sure that I would sit down with you at your table if groundhog was being served. This is a first for me, but I can see that it would be good to catch and eat as many as you can to preserve your vegetable garden. :-)

  2. Could you enter this story at my "Tell me a True Story" blog hop site on Tuesday or (late Monday)? This is the address:

    1. I'd be happy to! Thanks for the invitation!

  3. This story is Great!! I had some missionary friends who ministered in Africa, and the outing for the young people was to disturb the hay stacks so rats would run out. They caught as many as they could, and that night they roasted a feast for all. Sometime what we think is odd, is something that God provides for our daily food. It cautions us to take another look.
    Thank you for sharing at Tell me a Story.


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