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How to de-bone a rattlesnake..help!

  • m

I am getting a 3lb rattlesnake for a BBQ. Has anyone deboned one?

Any favorite recipes..or should we just grill it?

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  1. OH MY GOSH!! I have zero experience with reptilian entrees, but would you be so kind as to report back on both the process and the final meal. I'm curious what a 3lb "rattler" goes for these days! You sound so ambitious, good luck :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: enbell

      "Reptillian entrees" - I love it - and I second enbell's requests.

      1. re: enbell

        i know quite a bit about rattlesnakes...e-mail me with any questions....ill be glad to help...

      2. Many of us southerners and southwesterners have tried rattlesnake (tastes like chicken) but has anyone tried water moccasin?

        1 Reply
        1. re: steakman55

          I have
          Taste fishy to me I think maybe because of its diet .

        2. Snake I've had was not deboned. You have to eat it like you're eating fish. I think teriyaki would be good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            To me rattlesnake does not taste like chicken at all. kind of like gator which tastes like veal and fish! I swear both are great, although I only had rattlesnake in ravioli of all things. Maybe you should smoke it?

            p.s I think the bones are too fine, and the flesh too dense to debone...but that is just my guess

          2. Never done it, but I'd give it a red hot go.

            Slit down the length of the belly, remove intestines, wash. cut behind the head and remove downwards, (hopefully) taking the spine with you. Use tweezers to remove any remaining fine bones.

            Let us know how it goes!!!

            (I've eaten it before and it was de-boned, rolled up in a spiral, placed in a cast iron camp oven and cooked over coals.. T'was very tasty)

            1. Here you go ...

              That site says ...
              There are two ways to cook rattlesnake meat: De-boned, or with the bones still intact. If you cook it with the bones intact you will have to deal with them while eating it. This is no big deal really, and in fact many “just the snake” type recipes (baked snake, southern fired snake, etc.) call for the snake to be cut into pieces and cooked with the bones."

              It doesn't sound like you are going for chili where the meat must be removed first. The site tells you to simmer in water for an hour.

              Then it depends on how from-scratch the snake is ... If it is intact here's a link for dressing a snake ... they gotta be kidding ...

              After removing head, rattles, and entrails they say ...
              "drop in fresh cold brine water (either cover container or be sure to stand by it because the snake will crawl out of water) ... When body of snake has stopped crawling, remove and wash in fresh cold water, chop in lengths 3 or 4 inch long.

              NOTE: Be sure to dispose of head immediately as they can bite for several hours."

              Some snake recipes ...

              5 Replies
              1. re: rworange

                now I am thinking the southern fried sounds good. I would soak in buttermilk though. now I woneridering: where can I get rattlesnake and who on earth do I know htat would eat it with me? It does sound like you can it prepare it on the bbq with the bones though, doesnt it?

                1. re: lyn

                  Sounds that way. Here's a BBQ snake recipe

                  I haven't found anything on snake etiquette in terms of eating and discarding the bones. Where is Emily Post when you need her?

                  From Chow ... with a pic of a skinned snake ... looks like a big chicken neck ... also tips on how to choose your rattler and flavor affitinies ...

                  "Flavor Affinities:Ancho chiles, bacon, corn, cumin, garlic, honey, onions, poblano chiles, tarragon, thyme, tomatoes."

                  I think you could check at Chinese markets. I got interested in the subject of snakes when someone reported about snake soup earlier this year on the SF board.

                  There was an old report about someone spotted snake at a local Chinese fish market

                  If all else fails

                  1. re: lyn

                    My dear friends, who are developing a large subdivision in Wickenburg, Arizona, have killed seven already this season. Knowing them as well as I do, I can confidently say they will give you all the rattlesnake meat your lil 'ol heart desires :--)

                  2. re: rworange

                    The head can bite for hours after decapitation? And it can crawl out of the water without it's head? That sounds like horror movie cuisine!

                    I can't wait to hear how this turned out. Sounds wacky and wonderful.

                    1. re: ballulah

                      True about the head. At a friend's ranch in south Texas, I exhibited more curiosity about rattlers than shooting quail, and the ranch foreman took me out after supper when the desert comes alive, and he captured a 50 incher with the butt of a shotgun and had me carefully pick it up with a firm grip below the head, and the face to face hissing showdown began. They are very powerful animals. After that adrenaline rush, we cut the head off and Smitty advised me never to go near that head. 2 or 3 hours later after the rattling stopped I eviscerated the snake and the heart was still beating. Rattlers kill a lot of expensive hunting dogs in quail country there. Smitty would often go out at twilight and shoot a few -he had a freezer full of them - but you really can't keep up.

                  3. Skin it, gut it, coil it and pack it in heavy gauge foil with seasonings / sauces of your preference. Turn it once. Open the foils for the last 3 minutes to let the liquids boil off. You will have no chance of removing the flesh uncooked, and you will have nothing left to eat if you put it on a grill and then try to turn it. From the foil pack, the meat will flake off from the spine with perpendicular strokes with a fork. You can add dry stuffing to the cavity, depending on your sauces, but it's not that large, or some strips of nopalito.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      I got the snake at exoticmeats. It is 32.99 per lb. Our food group is having a wild game BBQ Sunday the 3rd. Dave and I are doing the wild game. We've never cooked rattlesnake. I hope somebody eats it! The guy we got it from said to put it in a crockpot on low overnight and then pick the bones out. I don't think I want to do that. He said it would stink while in the crockpot.

                      So Veggo, can we put this foil-wrapped snake on the gas grill? I hate to mask the taste with a heavy sauce or heavy seasonings. I want people to know what rattlesnake tastes like.

                      We are also cooking up some yak, alligator, elk, ostrich, buffalo, venison, and Dave is smoking two pheasants. We'll also make some regular beef burgers for weenies. :)

                      If you're in Sacramento June 3rd, give me a holla.

                      1. re: melly

                        I persist: skin, cut up in sections, marinade in a heavy teriyaki, carefully grill. Veggo is, as always, correct: grilling as is means you'll lose most of it. A salty marinade (like teriyaki) will firm up the meat for grilling--just don't turn too soon.

                        $33 a pound!!! Don't listen to me or Veggo!!!

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          No...I was wrong. Looked at my receipt and it is 38.00 bucks a pound! Hell, I am gonna wear the damned thing around my shoulders.

                          1. re: melly

                            One thing I might try is carefully grilling a section of it in foil & gently flaking meat from bones - like with whole-cooked fish. Then I'd take some breadcrumbs, herbs, egg and make snake cakes. Fry 'em 'till golden.

                            1. re: melly

                              Then it would be a boa, not a rattlesnake, eh???

                              1. re: purple goddess

                                har har, pg, we caught that ms barramundi

                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              I generally bow in deference to Sam, but anago and rattlesnakes are like apples and oranges and Sam is describing the customary preparation for unagi (sushi with cooked, flavored freshwater eel) The teriyaki would overwhelm the mild snake flavor, which you want to showcase. But don't listen to me or Sam!!!

                              1. re: Veggo

                                Veggo, you're 100% correct in that my real reference is the apple--unagi. But my orange reference is snake as done near Canh Tho in the Mekong Delta--course these are water snakes and don't cost $38 (!) a pound! The teriyaki (salt) function is not to overwhealm the flavor, but to firm up the meat by drawing off moisture so that it withstands the grill.

                                But at $114 for the snake--PLEASE IGNORE ANYTHING WE'VE SAID!

                            3. re: melly

                              Oh, yes foil pack on the grill OK. Brush it with italian salad dressing.

                              Hey, melly, I have another idea. If Dave is laboring over pheasants at the party, you can do the snake in the morning when there are fewer moving parts ( a metaphor, no reference to the snake) , and serve it chilled at your BBQ party. Coil it on a large tray with a nest of cilantro with thin slices of lemon and plum tomato. Get a jar of nopalitos and squiggle them around on the reptile and the mosaic of slices. Dust the snake with achiote. In the center, a dipping sauce of mayonnaise and achiote, which is crushed annato seed. Makes a pretty color and only a subtle flavor. They'll taste snake. And this would be an awesome presentation. Crackers or melba toast.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                Wow Veggo..where do you live? Sounds awesome. Dave is doing the pheasant before the day of the BBQ.

                                Damadchef...sounds fabulous. Maybe I should do the snake a day ahead..and make the cakes then grill them there. Hmmm.

                                I'll have to ponder..but I'll let you know how it goes. Plan to hear from me on Thursday when I actually see the snake!

                                1. re: melly

                                  Yeah, make the snake cakes! A little cayenne in the cakes might be nice with a cool cucumber-yogurt dip. Let us know what you end up doing.

                              2. re: melly

                                OK melly, be careful now, I'm not that far away... and isn't the Sacto Jazz Jubilee this weekend. I would love TO SEE this wonderful spread. Do you have chicken burgers or should I bring my own??? Ha!

                                1. re: melly

                                  Haven't had yak, but all the others are quite tasty. Ostrich is particularly tasty, but difficult to cook properly. Also highly recommend kangaroo, should you ever have an opportunity to sample it.

                                2. re: Veggo

                                  I am In Arizona and have a car to go looking for places that serves rattle snakes from unfrozen meat. I went to a Taxes rattle snakes round up years ago and swear to it that cooked from live snakes always taste better.


                                3. I have no idea what type of snake I ate.. I operate on the Don't ask and Don't tell principle of food.

                                  It was clearly not rattlesnake, tho, being as I was in Central Australia.

                                  It was def boneless, but had the skin ON and you flaked the meat off the skin, kind of similar to the way you'd flake off smoked mackeral.

                                  I am awaiting an update on this thread eagerly!!!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: purple goddess

                                    Clearly, then, you fillet the snake like you would a fish--cutting open the gut side, gutting, and then filleting from the top side, bringing the knife along and from the spine down the ribs as close as possible.

                                    1. Gosh - I absolutely LOVE this thread. All of you are awesome and the reason I'm here in the first place. I can't wait till Melly writes her review.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Gio

                                        I'm terrified of snakes, but I can't wait to hear how this turns out!

                                        1. re: egbluesuede

                                          Me too - BUT - now I think I would like to taste grilled.....snake. There, I said it.

                                      2. Sweet thread.
                                        Sam makes me want to go to China town and get some eel to grill.

                                        Can't wait for your next post Melly!

                                        1. yes i want to know how it goes as well-- had rattlesnake on the ranch in MT, also had horse, which they told me was elk, as i rather like horses-- found out later. had no idea the stuff went for $38/lb-- should i call them? the ranch isn't doing so well these days, i'm afraid.

                                          as i recall the snake was deboned, cut into pieces, & simply fried up in a light batter in a cast iron pan, s&p, as chicken would be done--although i agree it tasted more like gator or other reptiles than chicken. no sauce or anything, mashed potatoes and green beans on the side, middle america as you please. the other ideas for cooking the snake sound wonderful!

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            I grew up in Montana and Wyoming. Lived near Glacier Park, then near Billings, and then northwest Wyo. Hell, we saw lots of rattlers but never thought to eat one!

                                            1. re: melly

                                              eastern MT-- baker is the nearest town to the ranch, or ismay if you know where that is-- it's a little tough ranching territory in the area & i think times have been hard enough that to our folks there, "meat is meat," if you know what i mean. also i think it's just the nature of their "waste not" values-- they gotta kill the snake anyway for safety reasons, if it gets close to the house or livestock, so why not fry it up? makes sense to me anyway :)

                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                I know where Baker is!

                                                My snake arrived safe and very sound. It has been de-skinned which makes me happy. It's purdy. Our elk, yak, buffalo, deer, alligator, and ostrich showed up too ...and they are shitting all over the front yard! Har-de-har har har.

                                                1. re: melly

                                                  I have had numerous side-bars with Sam while your snake was on a plane, and I now concede that teriyaki may be a good way to go. But please don't cut it up or it will look like so many pieces of kielbasa. You want to watch your guests' eyes bulge and throats warble as they do a double take of the whole critter, in one piece. Shock and awe. Trust me just this once.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    I am looking at the snake right now. I am going to marinate it in teriyaki and wow our guests..just like you suggest..or maybe I'll just ignore you and Sam.

                                                    The guy who sold it to me told me to put it in a crockpot on the patio..on low overnight so I could debone it. I decided I don't want to debone it. We have lots of other meat we have to cook! I don't have time. I just hope nobody chokes on a snake bone.

                                                    1. re: melly

                                                      Crockpotting it will give you snake mush. Your tribe should know how to eat fish; and snake doesn't have those irritating tiny "y" shaped bones/espinas found in a lot of tropical fresh water fish. Let the marinade be fairly salty to firm up the flesh. Like fish, don't turn until the meat naturally releases. This means not overly hot coals.

                                                      We're with you. when does it all happen?

                                                      1. re: melly

                                                        This sounds stupid, but you might warn them it has bones. Until this thread, I had no clue snakes had bones. I thought they were all undulating muscle or something. Sounds like they are like fish bones.

                                            2. Well.. woke up this morning and this thread was the first thing I thought about!!!

                                              How did it go???

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: purple goddess

                                                Rattlesnake Report!

                                                We hauled everything home last night and I was too pooped to write.

                                                We marinated for 24 hours in Very Teriyaki that I got at TJ's. We also found a throwaway veggie/fish grill pan that we sprayed with pam and put the coiled up snake on. It was cold when we put it on..now I am sorry we didn't bring it to room temp first. Well, everyone was taking pictures of course! Dave said it was tough to know when it was done as it felt the same before you cooked it,,,as it did after it was cooked. I think we cooked it about 5 minutes per side..maybe a bit longer.

                                                Three different people, with three different knives, chopped it into 2 inch chunks. It was delicious! Especially when it first cam off the grill. After it sat, it was harder to eat. Maybe we overcooked it. I think it was a hit..but hard to say. Haven't really gotten lots of feedback on the snake in particular. There were a few people there who really seemed to appreciate our efforts (and the cost), although we didn't announce what we'd spent. Let's just say we could have both gone to The French Laundry and almost had our meals paid for, for what we spent on game/sauces/etc. for this shindig. The smoked pheasant pizza was a hit too! I saw leftover snake, yak, and elk kabobs when I left..and buffalo burgers. It most likely hit the trash.

                                                We learned alot...and now I feel confident in cooking rattlesnake. Thanks you guys, for all your help and interest. Next time I'll debone and make those rattlecakes but I will do it for a much smaller crowd. I do have a photo of the snake on the grill..but don't know how to post it.
                                                I still have lots of wild game..but froze the venison and elk patties. We're having elk kabobs tonight.

                                                1. re: melly

                                                  Congratulations!! Beware, you now may be the resident expert. Thank you for the constant updates as to the entire process. Hopefully one of the more tech-savyhounds will be able to walk you through how to post the picture. Thenks again :)

                                                  1. re: melly

                                                    melly, yours has been one enjoyable thread--and one fun to participate in. Look forward to the photo posts. Wish I could have come by to save the leftovers!

                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                      I am trying to figure out what to do with those leftovers. I guess I'll start posting daily what I am making each night.

                                                      Tonight I am using the buffalo (from buffalo skewers) and making a buffalo stroganoff. I was going to do kabobs but can't stand the thought of starting up the grill :) You can check out the local posts about it..which have been coming in all day..some very nice ones. http://www.sacramentofoodgroup.org under meetups.

                                                      1. re: melly

                                                        I am gonna beat this thread to death.:)

                                                        The buffalo stroganoff is fabulous. It is sublime. The buffalo was cut thinly and then I marinated it in Wild Game Sauce and Marinade by Local Legends. It has the perfect zing for the dish. I added mushroom soup, sour cream, mushrooms, and a little cream and water. Over the thick egg noodles and we had heaven tonight! Tomorrow night..smoked pheasant pizza with an artichoke sauce.

                                                    2. re: melly

                                                      Your intrepid spirit is applauded! Glad it went well.

                                                      1. re: melly

                                                        The spread was fanatastic...the rattlesnake was probably the highlight of my afternoon, though I did enjoy everything except the gator. Veal and fish is an apt description - but perhaps no-so-fresh veal.

                                                        I have tried to attach a picture of the beautiful rattlesnake on the grill. Also more pics at my website: www.hahnathome.com. Mellie & Dave of Sacramento Food Forums did a fabulous job putting this thing together and making it an event to remember.

                                                        1. re: lorilhahn

                                                          WOW! Very cool pics. Certainly trumps the Winslow Homer in my foyer.

                                                    3. Congratulations on a stupendous effort. And, thank you for all your updates as well.
                                                      I'd like to know though, what did the snake taste like? I've had eel in various incarnations and am wondering if the snake had a similar texture.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        The snake was firmer next to the spine. It tasted like a sweet and rich version of "chicken". It didn't taste like chicken..but that's as close as I can get. My husband wished he'd brought his tin snips in order to cut thru that damned spine! One tough bone. Lori posted the pic...above!! See?

                                                        1. re: melly

                                                          Many thanks for the description. The fotos are fab!!! Everything looks delectable.

                                                          1. re: melly

                                                            Thanks so much for letting us participate vicariously! I love trying something new...but I promise you I will never ever cook a snake. The thought freaks me out! I love how you tackled it though!

                                                            1. re: melly

                                                              melly, this has been a lot of fun. Initially didn't realize you're all in Sacramento. So, you had me, a Fresno person, with you in spirit. Great snake photo.

                                                              1. re: melly

                                                                Really enjoyed the whole post and learned alot. So, tell me about snake bones. Are they like fish bones?

                                                                Any aligantor salad sandwiches to use up leftovers?

                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                  The snake bones are thicker than fish bones..and no Y bones. They are "curled" halfway around the meat and are about 1/8 inch apart..maybe a little more.

                                                                  Tonight I made a meatloaf out of the elk burgers. I'll serve it tomorrow. I am going to grill up the elk kabobs and give some to neighbors and use the rest in a stir fry.

                                                                  I still have leftover frozen venison and buffalo patties.

                                                                  1. re: melly

                                                                    OMG was at dinner tonight at one of my local faves. Had Venison burgers!!!!!

                                                                    With a Chocolate Stout Blackberry BBQ Sauce, Chipotle Mayo and Curly Endive.

                                                                    TOO DIE FOR! Mf friends and I were dumbfounded/speechless (which is what chefs want right? Just to hear the sound of chewing :> ).

                                                                    It was goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood.

                                                            2. Dude - you rock. I eyeball the rattle whenever I go to the fancy meat market.

                                                              I figure just grilling would do the trick. Have a good sauce on the side, roll up your sleeves and get dirty.

                                                              1. ok...im from west texas...(Big Spring) to be exact...around this time of the year (the start of fall till after the start of winter) a group of us go out and hunt for dens...we usually catch no less than 30 rattlers...and no less than ninety pounds of meat.....yummy yummy!!!! people say it taste like chicken.....WRONG...all together false....rattlesnake has its own taste...(alligator...."fishy") thats more like the taste, but not close....ill help you start out by preparing it.......................let simmer in water and lemon juice for at least one hour...remember "simmer" that means low low heat....after the hour is up... de-bone it, or cut into 3 inch pieces...depending on how you cook it.......mix it up...make your own spice/bbq sauce..... taste batter with a more spicy flavor....and dont be scared to use the lemon juice....just dont use too much...