Most folks have not had the opportunity to try a bite or two of muskrat. And of those people who have had the chance to eat muskrat, most of them probably decided to pass. Here’s the thing about muskrats – they look like a big wet toothy rat. Their teeth are orangish and the flesh is dark and somewhat stringy. When cooked, the meat is deep in color and seemingly devoid of any fat.

This recipe comes from Season 1 of “Dead Meat” TV Series airing on Sportsman Channel. After a morning of shooting divers with guide Charles Laird of the White Oak Guide Service in Crisfield, MD, Scott Leysath, Ken Perrotte and Charles headed over to Dave White’s Pittsville Café for their Wednesday special – a whole muskrat with 3 sides for a mere $12.95. Scott wanted to know how much it would cost if he got a cheeseburger instead. At Dave’s the muskrats are served whole and topped with a gravy that’s about the same color as the cooked rats. If presentation is important, well, this plate needs some work.

Eastern Shore Muskrat

Once braised, muskrat meat can be substituted for just about any pulled or pot roasted meat, but it does have a distinct flavor. Given where it lives, the cooked flesh can have a slightly muddy taste so it’s always best to soak the processed rats for at least 12 hours in a saltwater brine (1 gallon water mixed with 1 cup each kosher salt and brown sugar). After brining, pat dry and consider another soak in a wine-based marinade. Before cooking, rub with olive oil, salt and pepper. Charles debones the muskrats before cooking, but the quartered muskrats can also be cooked as-is and the cooked meat can be pulled from the bone when tender.  
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 4 muskrats, fur, feet, heads removed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large onion peeled, roughly chopped
  • Italian Seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cut muskrats into quarters (or remove meat from the carcasses). Season liberally with olive oil, salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning. Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add muskrat pieces and brown evenly on all sides. 
  • Add wine, broth, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender like pulled pork. 

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