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Finding the Cure: Why not cure the whole bear?

By Timothy Fowler

Sometimes your kid gets what they want.

Whole Bear Cure

As I held the forepaw of my youngest son's 2021 spring black bear for skinning, he said, “why don’t we make the whole bear into charcuterie? I need some ingredients and love Chorizo, Tasso ham, confit, and smoked bear shanks. I want to make baked beans, Cassoulet and Jambalaya.”

So that's exactly what we did. We already had one bear completely cut, packaged, and in the freezer: fresh cross-cut shanks, cutlets, steaks, roasts, and stew. We even had a bit of trim put away in 15-pound bags to make sausage later in the year. So we put the bear on ice and continued to hunt for two more days. When we got home; Josh took the backstraps and the tenderloin for cutlets and fresh barbecue and everything else we made into charcuterie––a catchall phrase for a cure. If Josh didn’t want those backstraps fresh, I would have made maple back bacon. You can read about this process in a back issue of Bear Hunting Magazine, and the story and recipe are on the BHM website. It is definitely worth the effort.



Chorizo would've made great stuffed sausage, but we really wanted taco and tostadas ingredients, so we didn’t stuff casings. We cooked the sausage mixture fully and packed it in one-pound packs, ready to thaw, heat, and make tostadas. We mixed coarse ground black bear shoulders 2 to 1 with pork belly and shoulder trim. We seasoned the mixture with five different dried chilli peppers: Poblano, Ancho, Cascabel, brown chipotle, Morita chipotle, and Guajillo, all finely ground. We added diced shallots, smashed garlic, sliced onions, 1.5% salt by weight, and a good sprinkle of black pepper. All this we cooked on high heat in a cast-iron frying pan until well browned, which turned out to be 180°F, well beyond the USDA recommended 160°F to be safe––no trichinosis.

Black Bear Tostadas.