Diamond Tooth Taxidermy

Exquisite Taxidermy Art and Design

© 2013 Diamond Tooth Taxidermy
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About Beth Beverly

I am a State and Federally licensed taxidermist who graduated from the Pocono Institute of Taxidermy in 2010 with high marks. I have a deep respect for this craft and those who strive to preserve it.

It is my pleasure to work on any trophy mount, be it a shoulder, life-size, rug, or fish.

I accept custom orders for fantasy mounts, wearables, and bridal hair pieces.

Sculptural mounts and hats are available for rental provided they are in stock at time of inquiry.

Contact me describing your wish and I will be delighted to make it so.

Diamond Tooth Taxidermy Blog:

The Other Dark Meat

Here's a pile of fat at my dubious feet.  I read that I had to cut out the glands under the armpits but I never saw any glands.  Just mountains of fat.  I started to wonder if I was making a huge mistake.

 Let me explain.  A few months back I was presented a raccoon from a trapper who occasionally gives me the spoils of his never-ending attempt to keep predators from his ducks and chickens.  I feel not-so-great to downright terrible about trapping, despite the more "humane" traps out there these days, which is why I have set about learning more about this practice (blog post on that later) so I can feel fully informed before falling squarely one one side of the fence.
In the meantime, however, while this guy is dispatching these "nuisance" creatures, I may as well make use out of every part right?  I'd heard about eating raccoon before; my buddy who grew up in West Virginia claims to have eaten it many times as a child.  My friend Georgia Pellegrini who wrote a book on eating less tan conventional meats (Girl Hunter, do yourself a favor and go get it now if you haven't read it) has prepared and eaten raccoon dozens of times.  In fact, she walked me through the preparation of this dish via multiple text messages over the weekend.

 A little info about the "other dark meat" from an essay by Bill Hanks:
Trapper Larry Brownsbeger runs an add in the newspaper. He sells his Raccoons for between $3 to $7 each. that isn't a pound either. His Raccoons are clean and neatly wrapped. He announces his location of where the sales with take place. It doesn't take long and he is sold out.
The meat isn't USDA inspected either. Neither is Deer for that matter. There are no laws to prevent trappers from selling their meat. When you think of "green", Raccoon has no additives, steroids, growth hormones, or antibiotics. It is truly an organic "green" form of meat.
In Missouri, it is estimated that there are 20 Raccoons for every square mile. The Raccoon population has doubled since the 80's. There are more Raccoons now than when the State was first settled.
Pioneers use to eat Raccoon. They were easy to trap and prepare. A Raccoon can easily fill a family of four or five. Unless you know a trapper or trap yourself, it is hard to find a Raccoon that has already been cleaned and wrapped properly.
Raccoons provide a great source of protein to a person's diet. Still for many Americans, a Raccoon is still considered as a rodent that they try to avoid hitting on the road. However, for a few that know how to cook it, it is a meal that they can't wait for.

I began by quartering up my raccoon and making a marinade.  I used salt, sugar, rosemary, Spodee (I kind of live off the stuff), pear vinegar and pineapple juice.  In hindsight, I used much too much salt but now I know for next time.

 I let it sit for two full days and then set about braising it.  I've never actually braised anything (I attempted to braise a fox a year ago but didn't look up directions or anything so it turned out just awful) so I looked up instructions on several sites and kind of married a few recipes.  I cooked the meat in really hot grape seed oil for about a minute on each side:

 It began to smell REALLY FUCKING GOOD.  I started to think I might be onto something.

I then added "aromatic" vegetables  (onion, carrots, celery, shallots, crushed garlic) to the hot oil after taking out the meat.  Here's where I made my second mistake.  I added more oil to the veggies while they were cooking which was completely unnecessary.

After the mixture had become soft, I deglazed the pot (another first for me!) by adding sherry.  The recipe called for wine but I think sherry is pretty much the same, right?  Plus its all we had in the house.
I then added the meat back in, added more sherry and a 32oz can of crushed tomatoes.  The liquid didn't quite cover the raccoon so I topped it off with some water, bay leaves and paprika (I don't even know what paprika is for but it was looking so lonely on the spice rack really wanting to be useful so I figured, what the heck), brought the whole thing back up to a simmer, covered it tightly and in the oven it went for 4 hours.

Except it was more like 6 hours because I fell asleep.  Still, I tasted it before putting the whole pot in the fridge for the night and the meat just melted in my mouth.  It left an unusually velvety texture in my mouth.
The next night I heated up a couple bowls for the mister and me and we dined on coon stew with garlic bread and side salads.   A few notes:
-I think because of the crazy amount of salt I used in the marinade, the meat itself was just a bit too sodium rich.  I don't mind a little salt though; it keeps my blood pressure at human level and prevents head rushes.  Jim however, was NOT feeling it.
-This is an eztremely rich dish.  The raccoon is so fatty to begin with and like I said earlier, I used far too much oil.  Again, I don't mind, especially if there is bread to soak up all the goodness but it does feel like more of a cold weather comfort dish than anything you'd want to put in your body on a 90 degree day. 
That said, I ate leftovers for lunch today and was just as happy with it lukewarm having sat in my bag all day.  Does that sound gross?  Should I be refrigerating my food?  Psssssht.  No thanks.

I will, however, be packing up the rest of this dish (this raccoon really could feed a family of five, there is so much of it!), freezing it and saving it for a really dreary low energy day in November.

In the meantime, I might get Georgia to give me some more pointers.  She and I have been trying to figure out a joint class we could teach where I show how to skin and mount a specimen and she shows how to turn it into a gourmet dish.  No waste!  Maybe raccoons are the answer.

Twenty for Twenty, # 4: Georgia Pellegrini

When I first heard of the mythical creature called Georgia Pellegrini, I thought "NO WAY."  It was as if someone took all the things I wanted to be in an alternate life and made them into her.  Does that sound creepy?  I hope not.

I came into contact with Georgia through her brother, whom I met via mutual friend.  He told me (and rightfully so) that somehow, someday, our worlds should collide.  So I looked her up.  DANG.  She hunts.  She prepares exquisite meals out of what she hunts.  And she looks amazing while doing all of it:

While so many of us (myself definitely included) are experts at talking the farm to table, local slow food talk, she is living it.  And writing about it.  Her first book, Food Heros, details the noble endeavor of 16 food artisans from around the globe striving to honor their respective culinary traditions.  Her second book, Girl Hunter, is out now and in it she shares the stories of sourcing all her own ingredients for a great meal.   I am starting to feel like a sixth grader writing a book report so I'll just sum up my geekery with a simple "Shes rad."  I hope someday to do some of the things Ms. Pellegrini is doing, with as much gusto and panache.

Another great thing about this gal: she's approachable.  When I initially contacted her about this project, she was completely receptive and eager to participate.  I knew she would be a bit different to design for, given that she is constantly on the go and leans toward all things practical.  What I'm trying to convey is, Georgia isn't wearing a large feathered headpiece out in a field while trying to shoot a turkey.  So I made her a brooch, imagining that she could pin it to the lapel of a blazer or on the band of a small, sensible cap.

The foot is from a chicken which was once part of my friend Bailey and Thomas' flock, and it's wedged tightly into the brooch base along with feathers of pheasant, chicken and peacock.  There is also the tip of a red squirrel tail in there, just for fun.

The puffy soft feathers are from  the tail area (read: butt) of the chicken; these have been a favorite of mine lately because they have a fur-like appearance and move so nicely with the wearer.  I'm constantly astounded by the range of color, shape and texture of the fathers all coming from one bird.

For an embellishment on the brooch base, I found an old pin from my street gift collection that apparently was some prize or medal for 25 years of faithful service in the state of Georgia.  Perfect!  I filed down the back, bent it to the correct shape and attached it to the brooch.

I left the talon colors as is and didn't fuss too much with the natural state of the elements in this piece.  Although we've yet to meet, Ms. Pellegrini strikes me as a true creature of her own element, grounded and proud of it.

Cheers, Georgia!

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