Snake Bite

There's a question niggling at the back of my mind, and it is this: what the heck did Pigseye Parrant eat? And Father Louis Hennepin? Clearly they weren't supping on hot-dish, which most people would have you believe is the original Minnesota food. I got another inkling while perusing Samuel Arnold's new "The Fort Cookbook," which is full of recipes and trivia culled from his years as a Western history buff and owner of Denver's The Fort restaurant. Recipes for things like Moose Nose and Buffalo Hump abound, most centered on things that are easily found in Denver. Like:

Cold Rattlesnake Cocktail

1 four-pound Rattlesnake 1/2 cup minced onion Bay Leaf 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns Bibb lettuce 2 tablespoons sweet red chili sauce per person

"If you've caught a rattler and want to prepare it for cooking, first cool it in the refrigerator or freezer. It will go to sleep and will be safe to handle. Using a cleaver or hatchet, cut off the head low enough down on the neck so that it may be freeze-dried and made into a hat ornament. Next, stretch it out on a table and using a razor blade, an X-Acto knife, or a very sharp skinning knife, slice the skin of the belly lengthwise, starting at the neck and continuing down the length of the snake. Remove the organs and wash well under running water. Use a pair of pliers to pull off the skin. It should be easy to remove since there is some fat between the skin and the muscle. Try not to damage the skin, for it may be rubbed on the underside with a little salt and then stretched onto a board and tacked down to dry for display as a monument to your bravery and culinary skills.

Once the snake is cleaned and skinned, braise it in a pot with the onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns. After 90 minutes of gentle boiling, the snake is done. Allow to cool, then strip the meat from the bones by hand. Arrange atop a bed of the lettuce on a serving plate or in cocktail glasses, and serve with the chili sauce."

Got no snakes to call your own? Call Colorado Mountain Game at (303) 659-9219 and they'll sell you one.

 
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