The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.01.02


Tributes and tails for Canada Day

So, you've been agonizing about just what to serve at your Canada Day get together.

Why not pay tribute to Canada's national symbol and rodent?

You know -- that cute creature with the choppers that wreaks havoc on our dwindling deciduous population.

Yes, I am speaking of the beaver, Canada's truly great construction wizard. I know that all of you fur-loving and fuzzy, feel-good crusaders will balk at the idea of gnoshing on this little devil, but lets face it: If it walks, crawls or swims, it's potential food for the truly refined chef.

Round out a menu with earthly home-grown vegetables (organic of course) and you've got a proud Canadian dish fit for an early settler.

Got a smoker? Nothing like smoked beaver to get the juices flowing.

Got a big pot and a hot stove? You get the picture. A good old slap-happy afternoon of culinary tradition awaits the adventurous.

Of course, you'll need a beaver or two and they ain't easy to come by.

I've been to the Beaver club at the Queen Elisabeth Hotel in Montreal and they don't even have any. False advertising I say.

I strolled along the canal in this nation's capital and spotted only two outlets serving beaver tail. Some fried concoction dredged in cinnamon and sugar. Not even close to the real thing, as any worthy Coureur de bois knows.

Yep, I've been on a beaver hunt for some time and although Larry Flint's publication shows promise, I finally found a good supply in Boynton near Fools Hollow.

beaver pond
© 2002 Tim Doherty

Do not attempt to procure any from the hollow though, as I have heard that a Silver Fox is protecting a clan with much interest. Conflict of interest perhaps, and she is keeping the beavers all to herself, more than likely.

At any rate, there is an interested vendor that just might be able to help you get a couple for you -- if he can outsmart the Fox. He's working on it for me as we speak.

O.K. so you've finally managed to bag some beaver. Now comes the good part.

Make yourself a hot fire and while you are waiting for the coals to be white hot, delicately remove the tail or tails of your beaver(s).

Save the body(s) for a good stew and keep the teeth for trading at your nearest Hudson Bay outlet. I traded mine for a good blanket last time.

Place your beaver tail over the coals on a rack over the fire and blister the skin. Remove the tails and let cool to touch. Peel off the blistered skin. The fox around the campfire will happily eat this discard.

In a shallow roasting pan, sauté a chopped large onion in butter until onion is clear, stir in two tablespoons French mustard to coat onions, then stir in one cup of Sherry.

Add two good dashes of Tabasco sauce and one and one half cups commercial barbecue sauce. Place your beaver tails in the sauce, cover with another cup of barbecue sauce, sprinkle with a mess of Parmesan cheese, and bake in an oven at 450 degrees for an hour and a half.

Serve hot with a mix of steamed ordinary and wild rice. Sip Sherry all along while you toast Canada and its wonderful wild bounty.

Next time: Stuffed Squirrel Provençal.

And now, the National Anthem of Canada...