Long time ago my sister gave me a bear shoulder roast. Her then husband killed the bear because it was hanging around their hippy trippy teepee in B.C. scaring everyone. He'd never shot a gun before and knocked himself out by keeping his eye to the sight (sp?) when he fired. Anyway, I braised it with a nice collection of minced veg & herbs & wine & tomatos -- and I braised it some more and then for a while longer. It never became less than inedibly leather-tough but it shrank considerably and we used the glorious gravy to dress papardelle. It tasted dark, meaty and a little gamey -- in a good way.
Oh, God! This post conjures up one of my most horrendous food memories. I was 15, spending the summer with friends who were serious chowhounds. Someone presented them with 10 pounds of "bear steak". They marinated it for three days, then roasted in the oven. The smell was beyond nauseating. Those of us who actually forced ourselves to taste it feel forever bonded in a sisterhood of adventurism and stupidity. Of course something that smelled like old roadkill would taste bad! Don't do it.
According to the L. L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook, bear can be prepared as you would pork - the fatty, old-fashioned pork you can't get anymore, that is. It should be cooked until well-done to avert any danger of trichinosis.
I've never tried it, bears being scarce these days in my neck of the woods.
I cook bear every now and then. In fact, it's going to be on my Patriots tailgate menu on November 26th when we play -- you guessed it -- the Bears. It's usually served as ground meat in meatballs, burgers or sausages, but you can also use larger cuts if you braise them properly. Here's a simple recipe:
BRAISED BEAR STEAK
Salt and pepper
1 cup sliced onions
4 tbsp. bacon fat
Bear steak, 3" thick
1 1/2 cups broth
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
Pound the flour and dry seasonings into the steak with the edge of a plate or a meat pounder. Brown the onions in the bacon fat and add the meat. Brown meat well on all sides. Add part of the broth and wine and bring to a boil. Cook briskly for 5 minutes. Turn steak, reduce heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours, adding more liquid if necessary. When steak is tender, remove it to a hot platter. Add the tomato paste and additional liquid, if needed, to the pan juices to make a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning and pour over the steak. Surround with boiled potatoes, garnish with parsley, and serve with sautéed mushrooms.