Search Search Google
Volume XVII, Issue 12 - March 19 - March 25, 2009
Home \\ Correspondence \\ Letter from the Editor \\ This Week's Features \\ Classifieds \\ Dining Guide \\
Home & Garden Guide \\
Archives \\ Distribution Locations
Smothered Muskrat
and Onions (serves 4)

1 muskrat (dressed & disjointed)
tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. paprika
1⁄2 cup flour
3 Tbs. fat
3 large onions
1 cup sour cream

Soak muskrat overnight in salted water (1 Tbs. salt to 1 qt. water).

Season with 1 tsp. salt and paprika, roll in flour, and fry in fat until browned.

Cover muskrat with onions, sprinkle onions with 1⁄2 tsp. salt.

Pour in the cream.

Cover skillet tightly and simmer one hour.

The Other White Meat

In places along Chesapeake Bay,
muskrat is still treasured for more than its pelt

Competing in Womens Beginner Muskrat Skinning at the 2007 National Outdoor Show in Dorchester County, from front, Dakota Abbott, Brook Spicer and the contest’s winner, Trish Hayden.

With the coming of spring, Marylanders and muskrats go their separate ways. But every year from November to March, Marylanders — at least some of us — hunt, trap and skin the furry rodents, also known as marsh rabbits.

The historic pursuit has its origins in taste and style. Before grocery stores, the flesh of the muskrat — said to taste like duck or rabbit — was more appealing. And the creature has long been valued for its soft, waterproof fur, which was dyed and sold in Europe as Hudson Seal.

The tradition continues into our times. “Muskrat trapping is culturally and economically important in many regions in Maryland,” reports Robert Colona of Maryland Department of Natural Resources. So important that this year’s harvest season was extended by a week to March 21 in 17 of Maryland’s 23 counties after ice and snow made the wetland trapping grounds inaccessible.

Trapping also controls the population of the eager beaver-cousins.

In recent years, Marylanders have redefined Muskrat Love — the 1970s hit song by The Captain and Tennille. In outdoor culture, a beauty contestant can win a man’s heart by showing some muskrat skin.

Contestants in Maryland’s Miss Outdoors Pageant — part of Dorchester County’s 64-year-old Annual National Outdoor Show — nowadays show their talent by skinning muskrats.

You’ve missed your chance this year to see a beauty contestant get under a rodent’s skin. But you’ve still got a few days to sample the taste of the season’s last muskrats. Catholics might be especially interested: They can eat muskrat meat during Lent, as the Church defines the creature as aquatic.

Buy yours at Bob Evans Seafood in Churchton or Lexington Market in Baltimore.

–with contributions from interns Ashley Goodman and Erin Woodhurst.
© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.