You would think a groundhog would eat what it’s supposed to–grass, dandelion and clover. But in true American form, Punxsutawney Phil reportedly feasts on dog food and ice cream throughout the year. No wonder he weighs around 15 pounds! (In the wild, they average in weight from 4 to 9 pounds.) Chunky little chucker, isn’t he?
Apparently, of the 115 recorded predictions he’s made so far, Phil has predicted an early summer only 15 times. What do you want to bet his main motivation for presaging longer winters is having an excuse to go back to his warm burrow and continue pigging out?
If I were to ever have my pick of groundhogs to eat, I’d probably steer clear of Phil, not only because he’s famous, but also because he’s a lardo. After all, you are what you eat, right?
A cursory Google search–yes, my research methods are exacting–led me to an interesting website, appropriately named UShotStuff.com, that says groundhogs are considered dark meat and have a mild flavor, and can be used as substitutes in rabbit and squirrel (!) dishes. Note the non-PC recipes on the site, as well as the Comic Sans font.
Here’s one random yet delicious-sounding recipe from the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension website. I’m not entirely sure what NCSU has to do with woodchuck recipes, though. One can only imagine.
1 woodchuck, skinned and cleaned
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup green pepper
1/2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 1/2 tbsp. flour
3 cups broth
1 cup flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. fat
1/4 cup milk
Cut woodchuck into 2 or 3 pieces. Parboil for 1 hour. Remove meat from bones in large pieces. Add onion, green pepper, parsley, salt, pepper, and flour to the broth and srit until it thickens. If the broth does not measure 3 cups, add water. Add the meat to the broth mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour into baking dish.
For biscuits: sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cut in the fat and add the liquid. Stir until the dry ingredients are moist. Roll only enough to make it fit the dish. Place dough on top of meat, put in a hot oven (400 degrees F.) and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until dough is browned. Serves 6-8.
It’s doubtful that you’ll find 80/20 ground woodchuck chuck at your local Whole Foods, but I’m sure you can find someone out there who would be willing to supply you with unwanted groundhogs that have eaten prize vegetable gardens en masse. Craigslist would probably be your best bet, judging by this post for free groundhog meat that was posted in 2009.
Some words of wisdom for those brave enough to experiment with woodchuck meat:
Is not a new invention;
Its fame, now reaching coast to coast
Is worth a cook’s attention
A Punsx’y chef will say it’s good,
And willingly he shares it,
But Woodchuck, like all other food,
Depends on who prepares it.”