When camping, many Alaskans prefer to gather and catch their dinner. The gathering part is clearly the vegetarian portion of the feast. Fiddlehead ferns, fireweed shoots, berries, spruce tips, rose hips and mushrooms (chosen with great care).
The Eskimo half, however; is usually composed of some kind of small game. Fish is the obvious choice, but, in case you are tired of fish, there are other options available to you.
Birds, there are several species you can enjoy, the problem is you have to catch them. This process is complicated by their flying and such. Less air-borne options include rabbit or squirrel. Let’s face it though, the first is too cute and the second is EWWW!
Turns out there is an additional option which is just ugly enough to bear killing for dinner; the lowly porcupine. These beasts are slow, easy to hunt, and have enough meat on them to feed a small crew of campers.
Clearly, I’m not speaking from experience. This recipe was gleaned from our good friends, Dustin and Alasha Brito. Truth is neither of them is Eskimo or vegetarian, but they are Alaskan through and through! Additional truth, my Eskimo husband has never eaten a porcupine. But it’s worth noting he would never tire of fish so it wouldn’t be necessary.
Hence, if you plan to camp in rural Alaska but don’t feel like fish for dinner, go with Dustin and Alasha! Or try your hand at the recipe they’ve provided.
Dutch Oven Roasted Porcupine
1 porcupine (no-known vegetarian substitution)
2 - 3 potatoes
3 - 4 carrots
1 - 2 onions
salt and pepper
Locate a porcupine. Once located, no need to waste a bullet, porcupines are slow. Just find a large stick and treat it like a fish; whack it on the head till it stops twitching.
Use said stick weapon to transport your kill back to camp so as not to quill yourself. Build a fire. Drop your catch in and roll it around with earlier-employed stick to singe the quills. They’ll shrivel up like hair. There are other methods of ridding the beast of its quills, but they are not nearly as interesting so I’ve left them out.
Clean it, quarter it; don’t ask me how. Just find someone who can do it, or take a field dressing guide with you and go for it!
Back to your fire, build it up big and let it burn down to coals while you prepare your meat.
Cut root vegetables into large chunks and place in the dutch oven.
Rub the quarters of porcupine with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic. Place meat into the middle of the dutch oven with vegetables surrounding it. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic on vegetables to taste.
Place the dutch oven deep into the coals of the fire. Shovel coals onto the top of it. Keep the fire going and move additional hot coals as needed to keep dutch oven hot.
Check for doneness after 45 minutes. Cut into a thick piece of meat to see if it’s browned through. It will likely take 60 - 90 minutes to cook.
Pull dutch oven out of the fire. Serve and (ah-men) enjoy.
Next camping trip: Porcu-bacon!